Kroger Co. plans to build a new Marketplace store in Columbus that officials say will be a showcase in the region of the company’s premier retailing concept.
The grocer is planning a $20 million capital investment to purchase and develop the vacant Dolly Madison plant site at 3060 N. National Road, said John Elliott, public affairs manager for the Kroger Co. Central Division.
Marketplace stores are typically about 125,000 square feet, compared to 56,000 square feet for the existing Kroger location at 3110 N. National Road. The enhanced store design will include all of the components of a traditional store but with a broader selection.
The Marketplace concept also features components not found in traditional stores, such as a cafe, Baby World, bed and bath, gourmet cheese, home fashion and toy departments.
Kroger has opened two Marketplace stores in Fort Wayne, which have been open a couple of years each, Elliott said.
“The Columbus format will be an enhanced version of the Fort Wayne model. Among our largest stores that carry the Marketplace banner, the Columbus store would be the flagship in the category,” he said.
Elliott said the Marketplace store also will provide a significant number of new employment opportunities.
“A Marketplace store will have 325 to 350 jobs, depending on the ratio of part-time to full-time employees,” Elliott said, compared with the store’s current 151 employees.
“That means more than double the current job count,” he said. “It’s not just about the new jobs, but it’s also job security for the existing 151 associates.”
Until construction begins, there are always factors that could impact a potential project, but Elliott said the company is high on the Columbus market.
“Having a contract subject to several provisions is not a done deal, but we don’t have any indication we are going to run into barriers,” Elliott said. “For Kroger to make a $20 million capital investment in Columbus and more than double the workforce, that is intended to be a strong statement of support for the community.”
The Dolly Madison site is the only parcel with a confirmed contract in place at this time, Elliott said.
Elliott said the confidence other companies have demonstrated in the Columbus market was a key factor in the decision to develop a Marketplace store here.
“We aren’t the only business that has made some positive investment decisions in Columbus,” he said. “Multiple business organizations are making a strong statement of confidence in the Columbus market.”
Elliott said Kroger’s business-plan projections indicate the new store could set volume records.
The Marketplace will be built at Central Avenue and National Road (U.S. 31), across the street and east of the current Kroger.
A preliminary rendering submitted to the city-county planning department indicates existing adjacent parcels, including Midas and Bradbury’s Waterin’ Hole, would not be disturbed by the development.
Elliott said Kroger’s signed contract for the Dolly Madison property is subject to some site reviews, including an environmental one, because it is a former manufacturing site.
“We have had a very positive dialogue with the city, but that is not yet complete, and there is a still a formal approval process that is not yet complete,” he said.
The Dolly Madison site is zoned industrial, but it is surrounded by community and/or retail and commercial service uses.
City-County Planner Jeff Bergman said Kroger has submitted a request for a zoning change that will be considered in May.
“The surrounding zoning is primarily commercial. So based on that, it’s likely that they are going to be successful,” Bergman said.
If the planning board recommends the zone change, it would have to be approved by the city council, which could take place in June, he said.
A conceptual site plan submitted with the zone change request indicates the store would face National Road and include an entrance on Central Avenue that would provide access for trucks.
Elliott said the existing 56,000-square-foot store space, which is leased, will revert to the owner, listed in county property records as Col-Ind Realty of Englewood, N.J. He said the adjacent Kroger Fuel Center will remain at 2822 Central Ave., which the company owns.
The Marketplace concept started with the company’s stores on the West Coast, and Kroger has incorporated some aspects of that concept and adapted it at the operating division level. This allows the Central Division Marketplace some latitude from the concept stores in other regions, Elliott said.
The most noticeable difference from traditional store would be far more general merchandise and a store-within-a-store design for those items.
The enhanced deli-bakery area in Marketplace stores include a café with Wi-Fi, and additional space that Elliott said is envisioned to make the department a meeting place and a meal destination.
“One of the strongest trends in food retail … is that people want home-cooked, quality meals in the amount of time it takes for fast food,” Elliott said.
“A Marketplace in Fort Wayne has six chefs, so there will be a team that will prepare fine cuisine like a destination restaurant. We are talking about grilling gourmet steaks, seafood and other items that can be eaten in a café area or taken home,” he said.
Elliott said announcement of the Columbus Marketplace store demonstrates Kroger’s commitment to expanding the concept for its Central Indiana customer base. He said the company is also currently developing three Marketplace stores in the Indianapolis area.
The Columbus development is targeted for construction to begin in early 2015.
About Marketplace stores
Kroger Marketplace stores are typically about 125,000 square feet, compared with 56,000 square feet for the existing Kroger location on North National Road. Features of a Marketplace include components of a traditional store, but with a broader selection and some or all of the following departments:
- Baby World
- Bed & Bath
- Deli & bakery
- Fresh flowers
- Fred Meyer Jewelers
- Gourmet cheese
- Health & Beauty
- Home fashion
- Kitchen Place
About Kroger Co.
STORES: 2,640 grocery and multi-department stores in 34 states and District of Columbia, of which 145 stores are in Indiana. Columbus Kroger store at 3110 N. National Ave. Kroger also operates JayC Foods stores, one of two dozen local banner names, including a JayC at 4290 W. Jonathan Moore Pike in Columbus and on U.S. 31 in Edinburgh.
EMPLOYEES: 375,000 nationally.
HEADQUARTERS: Company based in Cincinnati. Central Division (responsible for stores in Indiana, Illinois and eastern Missouri) based in Indianapolis.
FINANCIALS: Sales of $98.4 billion for 2013, an increase of 3.9 percent after adjustments. Net earnings for 2013 of $1.52 billion, an increase of 13 percent after adjustments.
HISTORY: Founded in 1883 by Barney Kroger with one grocery store in Cincinnati. Now ranks among the world’s largest retailers. Merged with Dillon Cos. in 1983 to become coast-to-coast operator of food, drug and convenience stores. Biggest merger was with Fred Meyer Inc. in 1999.
Kroger has a long history in the Columbus area that dates to the 1920s, according to Republic archives.
1926: Kroger opens first store in Columbus at 607 Washington St.
1933: Columbus Kroger moves to 531 Washington St. A second Kroger store also operated during this time at 332 Third St.
1942: Kroger moves across Sixth Street into the Odd Fellows Building.
1957: Kroger opens 15,000-square-foot store at 1800 25th St.
1977: Kroger opens 56,000-square-foot store at 3110 N. National Road, the largest in Indiana at that time.
2014: Kroger announces plans for a new 125,000-square-foot Marketplace to be built at 3060 N. National Road, which will become the flagship for its premium store concept in the region.
2015: Anticipated groundbreaking for new Kroger Marketplace store.
Key properties involved
Kroger plans to build a new Marketplace store at 3060 N. National Road, an 11.5-acre property that was site of the Dolly Madison Bakery, which Flowers Baking Co. bought from International Brands (Hostess)
Aug. 21, 2013, for $2,608,100. Value of the bakery property was assessed at $2,569,500 in 2013, and it had an asking price of $2.75 million when it was listed for sale by Flowers Foods in March.
Kroger will be leaving its store at 3110 N. National Road, a 4.97-acre property owned by Col-Ind Realty of Englewood, N.J., since June 21, 2012 when the property sold for $2,675,000. It was assessed last year at $3,293,000.
Kroger will keep its 2.14-acre gasoline station at 2822 Central Ave., which it purchased Feb. 4, 2011, for $895,000. It was assessed last year at $596,600.
Source: Kroger Co.