Controversial Kroger expansion gets Fishers’ OK

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Kroger Co.’s store at 116th Street and Olio Road in Fishers has a date with the wrecking ball—as soon as its super-sized replacement ready to open.

Fishers’ new City Council signed off Tuesday on Kroger’s controversial plan to build a 120,000-square-foot grocery behind the existing store, which will be demolished to make way for more parking and additional landscaping. (An attached multi-tenant retail strip, which Kroger does not own, will remain in place.)

The Cincinnati-based grocer needed the council’s approval because the proposed store is nearly twice as large as development standards allow at that intersection. The 65,000-square-foot maximum was established more than a decade ago, after years of discussions with neighbors who wanted the area to remain residential.

Some of them still don’t like the idea of increasing the limit, citing the increased traffic and the impact on home values among other issues.

Others praise Kroger’s plans, saying the current store is undersized and often runs out of staples.

The council took some convincing.

Kroger introduced the redevelopment plan almost a year ago but received a chilly reception from the seven-member Town Council. They revisited the issue this fall after the retailer tweaked the site design and made a number of promises to assuage lingering concerns.

The company said it would pay to install one traffic signal at one of the entrances to the shopping center, if officials deem it necessary, and it agreed to build a driveway connection to neighboring 118th Street, if property owners want one. Now, the four single-family homes there are separated from the retail area by an earthen berm.

But commercial growth has encroached on the neighborhood anyway, and residents told the council they are just waiting for offers from developers interested in their properties.

Kroger also assured council members and the public that the new store would remain a grocery—although it stopped short of memorializing that in a legal commitment, as it did with the other promises.

The council's 6-1 vote came after more than two hours of discussion—including an unusual third public hearing conducted for the benefit of members who joined the panel Jan. 1, when Fishers became a city.  Five of the nine council members are serving their first term. (Two councilors were absent Tuesday and did not vote.)

Construction of the $20 million Kroger Marketplace is expected to take about a year.

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