- Matt Sanctis Staff Writer
A $20 million Kroger development in Springfield is scheduled to begin construction in 2018, while the company works with local officials to resolve outstanding issues.
Springfield city commissioners approved a plan late last year to annex and rezone about 100 acres to move forward with a planned Kroger Marketplace to be built south of Interstate 70 on a former Springfield Twp. driving range. Company representatives said this week the project is still moving forward but won’t begin construction until next year.
“We are still working through zoning and development issues,” said Patty Leesemann, a spokeswoman for Kroger. “Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018.”
She didn’t provide further details, including what specific zoning and development issues the company was working to resolve. She also didn’t provide further information on when in 2018 the project might get underway.
The project is expected to bring as many as 350 new jobs to Springfield but also divided residents since it was announced last spring. Some residents have said the development will bring new jobs and investment, but other neighbors living in the area have raised concerns about traffic and the likely loss of an existing Kroger on South Limestone Street.
Kroger Marketplaces are larger than the chain’s traditional grocery store. They usually offer products like clothing and home goods along with groceries.
Local leaders had hoped the project would get underway this year, said Mike McDorman, president and CEO of the Chamber of Greater Springfield. But he said Kroger renewed its option on the property, and the project will be a major boost for that section of Clark County.
“This development opens up a huge opportunity for our premier interchange as well as the southern gateway and corridor of Springfield,” McDorman said. “As we look toward a widening of I-70 and an opportunity to enhance that interchange, there’s an opportunity to build significant investment around the Kroger Marketplace.”
David Livingston, an supermarket analyst with DLJ Research, wasn’t aware of the project in Clark County. But he said the industry in general is increasingly competitive and some other chains are reconsidering projects due to difficult market conditions.
“A lot of markets are just starting to shake out,” Livingston said. “Over the next year or so we’re going to see a lot of bankruptcies and a lot of chains going out of business, and that’s all over the country. In just about every major market you can point to stores that are in distress.”
Kroger is in a more stable position than many of its competitors, Livingston said, and increasingly has been taking sales from other chains like Walmart. Much of Kroger’s recent growth has been through acquiring chains like Harris Teeter, based in North Carolina, he said.