Kroger redevelopment plans for 16th Street on hold again

December 20, 2012
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Kroger 16th Street IndyA long-simmering plan by Kroger to build a new store to replaceKroger 16th Street Indy the cramped, old-format location at 16th and Central Avenue is on hold again after the chain failed to acquire a key parcel. Kroger has been buying properties for several years in hopes of building a new store and fuel center. The chain owns several parcels including at the northeast corner of 16th Street and Central Avenue and a narrow strip behind its existing store. The missing piece is a row of three 1930s apartment buildings that occupy a large lot between Central Avenue and the existing store, said Kroger spokesman John Elliott. "That’s the linchpin piece," he said. "We thought we had a real estate broker that was watching to pick it up for us out of foreclosure but somehow that didn’t come together and I don’t know why." He said the previously vacant buildings are being renovated. Elliott said the existing 22,000-square-foot store is "beyond worn out and can't be saved." Kroger stores now are 70,000 square feet or larger. He said the only way Kroger could redevelop the site without the missing parcel would be to build its fuel center at the intersection's vacant northwest corner. The fuel element has been a nonstarter among many neighbors, regardless of location. "For Kroger that's a deal killer," Elliott said. "We need food, fuel, pharmacy and floral or the business model will not work." An earlier story is here.

(Images: Google Maps)

  • You have got to be kidding me
    I drive by this intersection everyday on the way to work and how there wasn't more communication between the city, Kroger, realtors, etc to get this plan moving is a joke. For starters, those 3 apt buildings are an absolute eye sore. Then, why only 1 of those 3 gets renovated makes no sense. The renovated bldg will probably sit there and return to its old form. Secondly, not getting a renovated, modern Kroger in this area is a huge blow to revitalizing that neighborhood. From reading the related article, people wanted to revitalize things and multiple must have dropped the ball.
    • Ridiculous
      Excuses, excuses, excuses...this is a sad example of poor communication between Kroger, the City of Indianapolis, and the real estate broker. The gas station could be placed on the vacant corner not far from the grocery store to maintain Kroger's business model. The proximity would not be far. Sad, sad, sad state of affairs. Looks like somebody is in the market for a new realtor.
    • Mixed feelings
      I live in the area and shop at this Kroger occasionally to avoid the outlandish prices at the O'Marshia's downtown. It definitely could use an update (the parking lot alone is a minefield). However, I don't relish the idea of a huge Kro with a fuel station in the area. Modern chain groceries feel like Big Box stores, with their soul-sucking florescent lighting and aisles and aisles of mostly crap. I feel a sort of existential despondency when I shop at them. Part of the reason I put up with O'Marshia's extortion is because it doesn't feel like that -- it has an old school, A&P kind of charm. You don't have to walk a mile across the store to get what you're looking for. No one is asking me, but couldn't they put something more manageable, less like a Big Box, on this smaller footprint? I think a neighborhood that keeps the existing store busy and supports smaller (physically and financially) businesses like Goose the Market, would embrace it.
    • Think differently about space
      this might be a good time for Kroger to consider doing what Fresh Market did at 54th and college - multi-story parking. There must be ways to design a bigger space without having a huge footprint. Besides, isn't it time for Kroger to consider a more "boutique" approach to retailing?
      • Another gas station
        Maybe Kroger's business model is not suitable for this location if a gas station needs to be tied to it. This isn't suburbia we are talking about. There's an urban Kroger in Midtown Atlanta with the store along the street and parking behind it, no gas station, and they seem to do just fine. Plus do we need a sprawling 70,000sf store at that location? One of two things are going to happen: one, Kroger will look at this as an example of an urban development; two, they will let the property slowly die on it's own.
      • Kroger
        Kroger is ridiculous. The only reason this store replacement project has dragged on for more than 10 years is that they want to shoe-horn their standard suburban store model into this urban site. This site is essentially an entire city block. They need to build an urban store, preferably a design specific to this site. The land area for Block 400 is almost exactly the same and Flaherty & Collins is putting a 41k sqft Marsh, 5k of additional retail, 336 apartments and a parking garage on that site. Kroger wants....a 70k store and a parking lot with a gas station. Keep Kroger in the suburbs if they're going to be this intransigent on their plans.
      • bad neighbor
        I had start shopping there to encourage them to move forward. Guess I'll start going back to my old store. You are an eyesore in a developing neighborhood. We are not the burbs so screw us is most businesses attitude. Then get out
      • No Excuse
        The city should have been on top of this. I am sure they will give Kroger some tax credits up front for expanding but in the future they stand to collect a lot more tax revenue than the low income apartments. The city also let down the community because there were jobs to be created from this expansion and now those are on hold as well. I put the blame on the city. They are aware of Kroger's intent. My guess is that whoever pulled the apartments out of foreclosure is well aware of Kroger's plans and is only refurbishing the one building as a hold out. Kroger may have to add some incentive to get them to sell.
      • Urban Store?
        Maybe Kroger could reconsider their efforts to construct a suburban prototype store in an urban neighborhood? I seem to recall Kroger having similar redevelopment challenges in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood in their hometown of Cincinnati. If Whole Foods, Target, Aldi, and even Wal-Mart can adapt to an urban protype store, I don't see why Kroger continues to challenge the trend.
      • Three buildings - different owners
        I used to live at 17th and Central. It was always my understanding that those three buildings have different owners. I'm not sure if it is three parcels or one parcels with a condo ownership style. In any case, I believe that is why work has ever only been done on one of the buildings and not the others. Maybe someone else is more in the know on this aspect.
      • Those buildings ARE for sale
        First, I agree with Carol on the idea of an urban parking model like Fresh Market at 54th and College. Build up and out as they do in other space challenged large cities. Also, before the current owner, those 3 apartment buildings were listed forever for just $150k. Now that one is fixed up, they are again for sale at a price of $395k. It's listed on the MLS. Duh. Kroger still has every chance to purchase this property. Are they just looking for excuses? In this situation, the land is available.
      • Yep yep yep.
        Yeah, apparently everyone except Kroger and its broker have seen that one missing "linchpin" for sale. Their desire for a standard suburban boilerplate redevelopment is ridiculous and should not in any way be encouraged by the City. I'm often critical of the City, but I'm having a hard time understanding the comments here suggesting that the City is to blame for Kroger not redeveloping. The City bends over backwards to accommodate every large business, oftentimes even when they bring in an inappropriate design that is not compatible with the surroundings.
      • Can be done successfully
        I have worked on the planning and design of a number of grocery and retail stores, and I'm certain there is a solution for planning this site and their store in a manner that would be successful for the neighborhood and for Kroger. Push the building to the street, contain the parking and fuel station within the site. It can be done successfully. Maybe we will give then a call.
      • Good Luck Craig
        Of course it can be done. Hundreds of such developments in dozens of other cities has proven that. The questions are whether Kroger is willing to make the effort to step outside their normal box, and whether the City will take the opportunity to require a site design that puts pedestrian accommodation and development of an active, engaging streetscape first. Since the site is zoned PK-2, any redevelopment would have to be approved by the Metro Dev Commission, and the PK-2 zoning allows the Commission fairly broad discretion rather than the typical Marion County zoning districts that simply prescribe building height, setbacks, and minimum parking with no other regard for building and site design.
      • Key future growth opportunity
        There are plenty of good examples around the country of chains who successfully integrated into renovated neighborhoods populated by young professionals and families attracted to the urban lifestyle. In many cases, the chain provided a neighborhood with the escape velocity it needed to break free of its doldrums by attracting smaller outlets such as coffee shops and bistros which brushed aside any remaining blight. I read a recent article which stated that Kroger is at a crossroads. They are the biggest grocery chain in the nation, yet they are allowing key future growth opportunities in urban markets to slip away. Whole Foods has developed this model successfully in markets all along the east coast. The mere fact that this location on 16th Street is adjacent to the Herron-Morton Place historical district makes it a prime location. If Kroger is smart, they will make an offer to the owner of the apartment buildings cannot refuse and hope that they can still salvage the deal; otherwise, they just have themselves to blame.
      • Those apartments are beautiful
        They should definitely NOT be torn down.
      • Kroger needs to think urban
        I agree with Carol, Kroger needs to rethink their design. That area is urban, and it sounds like the design for Kroger is not at all urban. What should be done is to have the store pushed right up against 16th. Street with some parking behind the building and the rest on the roof. The gas station could be built in the southwest corner of the property.
      • Goodbye Kroger
        I hate Kroger. Let them just go away and hope for a more urban friendly grocery to step in. Fuel center is not needed...too many gas stations now. Kroger just thinks it should have its way period. I hope the owner's of the apartment buildings never sell. I would rather see those buildings fall down than to let Kroger have their way...period. Maybe I will buy those buildings and never sell.
      • Agree with others
        I agree with the other posters that Kroger is not trying to creatively use the space they can get and the city is not helping. I have never seen the parking lot even half full. How about reducing the overall need for parking (not requiring suburban requirements for a city developement) and using every square inch. Kroger is not making any friends. I have a choice between Marsh and Kroger since I live right between them and choose Marsh every time.
      • So lets see, we have folks who want to demolish historic buildings(that are being renovated) for a massive suburban store. You have folks who don't want to see them demo'd. You have folks who don't want a gas station. You have folks who don't care about a gas station. You have folks who think Kroger should build a massive parking garage like Fresh Market even though the demographics are not even close to what Fresh Market would cater to and Kroger's business model is nowhere close to Fresh Markets. But the overarching thing I am seeing here and I have seen over and over on these threads is everyone here is good at spending other peoples money. Kroger has a certain business model it sticks too. It has been successful at this model. We saw Marsh try to upscale and fail horribly at it. But there are folks who post here who seem to know better than the ones with the money to risk. So my thought is the folks on here who think a Fresh Market concept with parking garage etc... or a smaller store without gas station would work, then build it. If not, then quit pretending you know more than the folks writing the checks.
        • less parking
          I think one of the issues here is the city's antiquated parking requirements. NEVER have I seen a Kroger lot full, not even 1/2 full. It's time we change the requirements which will reduce how mcuh land places like this have to aquire to do business.
        • city
          Those of you who blame the city officials are probably the same people that scream "robbery" when city provides subsidies to developers. Kroger can do whatever they want to do with their money and their real estate. However, that store is awful and has been awful for a long period of time. So, in my mind, that speaks volumes about Kroger as an organization. I personally don't want to see apartments go, and I don't want to see big box with fuel station at that location.
        • Here, Here
          I agree...
          • Err
            I agree with Indyman...not Joe P...sorry...
          • If they wanted it, it would happen
            The buildings in question are up for sale so maybe Kroger would just have to pay a little extra for them or the city could chip in some cash. This has been a one going nightmare for those of us that live in the area.
          • Bad Fit
            Maybe Kroger's "business model" isnt a good fit for this location. Dont let them shoehorn in something that isn't the best use. Its pretty clear that a superstore with outlot gas station and overlit parking lot wasteland is not very fitting for that neighborhood. Just look around. You dont need an urban planning degree to understand that. Take that crap to the burbs. I was thrilled to finally start seeing some rehab to those 1930's apartments. Hopefully as the market comes back a bit the rest of them will follow suit. You cant get buildings like that back once they are gone.
          • Agree w/ DJ
            It's not necessary to tear down those apartments to rebuild an urban grocery here. Kroger might want to, and since those buildings don't hold a historic designation, they can buy them and tear them down. But there's certainly no reason for the City to get involved in assisting it. And again, unlike in most zoning districts, approval of their redevelopment plans would be at the complete discretion of the MDC because of the site's PK-2 zoning. So there's great potential for a great redevelopment here, but it's totally up to Kroger and the City (MDC plan review). But it certainly needn't hinge on acquiring and demolishing those three apartment buildings. If Kroger isn't interested in building an urban store, which it appears they are not, they ought to consider marketing the site to someone else, because they are hurting their reputation by delaying the redevelopment of this long vacant property.
          • I agree with Idyllic Indy
            Reading this article makes me never want to shop at any Kroger every again.
            • Keep Kroger in the burbs
              Living in this area, I would rather see this property rot away with time than to have Kroger put the suburban curse on this neighborhood. This area needs to move forward with development. Why is it so impossible for people to visualize parking behind a store facing 16th with a gas station along Central (if it is actually necessary)? Does common sense come into play at all?
            • Kroger at 16th
              Kroger "wants" a fuel island. They do not "need" a fuel island. Kroger has plenty of examples of urban design when they are motivated to do so.
            • It's not like this is new to them...
              Check out this new Kroger that was built south of the Ohio State campus in Columbus: Here's an article about a new urban Kroger being built in Cincinnati: I'm not sure why they're being so stubborn about this site. Seems like they could get a great foothold in that area (and create a lot of goodwill) if they would just apply their new business model there.
              • Correction to the above comment
                Sure wish you could edit comments here! I just realized that the link to the Cincinnati article that I posted above is from 2008. After looking at the retail tenants that are currently at The Banks, I see that Kroger isn't among them. Perhaps Kroger can't even develop an urban store in their home city. If that's the case they need to just sell the 16th St parcel to someone who has the vision to build a store that fits into that neighborhood.
                • Kroger is anti urban
                  Let's face it: Kroger does not---nor will it ever---have an urban vision. The alledged 'urban' example around the OSU campus looks very suburban to me. Let's get rid of Kroger for good!!!
                • Policy Shift
                  Kroger, as many groceries, are developed around the idea of a once a week or a few times a month shopper. Essentially, mom or dod hops in their auto and drives to the store, spends a couple hundred dollars on gorceries, piles them into the car and drives home. This model requires a mega store that has all products and expansive floor plans. The product has to be readily available and easy to get. For an urban store, shoppers may visit bi-weekly or more and pick up enough items for a dinner that night or breakfast. This means the store can be smaller and there is a much smaller parking demand. Certainly Kroger can build a brick store with pretty windows and bike racks, but they will still mandate a huge mage store with excessive parking (though Indy promotes such development). The fuel center is simply a product of the above model. Kroger will tell you time and time again that the fuel center doesn't draw in new users, only existing customers. They will also tell you that they don't make any money from fuel sounds like a terrible business model. We simply need to demand better from our urban scale projects. We need to ensure that policy makers know that sity neighborhoods demand quality products and successful business neighbors.........
                • Move It
                  The corner of 16th and Central is best suited for neighorhood type stores like north college. Kroger should relocate to the old car lot just south of Walgreens. It has better access and surroundings are more suited for that type of retail environment.
                  • Or just develop naturally for humans
                    Fronting 16th street while maintaining parking and a main entrance in back (north side) would deter criminal activity because all 3 sides would be active. The 4th side (East) of the store could be utilized for a loading dock area. A more community friendly development would give the historic Old North Side a commercial identity, which is severely lacking for most of the near north side of downtown. If the developer had any vision for how a proper, urban concept at this site would influence future economic development in this area and this neighborhood directly.......the developer may want to live here.

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