Residents line up on both sides of Kroger debate

Residents were split over the potential impact of a new Kroger Marketplace store near Interstate 70, with proponents arguing Tuesday that it will create needed jobs and detractors saying it will lead to more traffic and mean a longer trip for some residents to shop.

More than 100 people crowded into a room at the Springfield Center of Innovation, where company officials laid out their plan for the proposed store. Plans submitted show the $20 million, 123,000-square-foot store could employ as many as 350 people at 2630 Springfield-Jamestown Road.

In comparison, an existing Kroger on South Limestone is about 27,000 square feet. That store is likely to close if the development moves forward, company officials said.

Many who attended the meeting said they’re glad Kroger is investing in the community The proposed store would offer area residents more options for groceries and could spur additional development, said Dale Henry, a former president for the Southern Gateway Neighborhood Association who has lobbied for a new store for years.

“This could be the beginning of something really big for the south side of Springfield,” Henry said.

But many residents raised concerns that it could also lead to more traffic and noise in the surrounding area, or be a nuisance to some residents living outside the city limits.

Several residents said they’re concerned that some who now walk to the South Limestone Kroger lack the transportation to get to the new location. City officials have said they will change bus routes to ensure residents can travel to the new development, but some residents said the buses are often unreliable.

Springfield Twp. resident Susan Page said she was concerned the area might become a food desert.

“If that happens, that is a disservice to the south side of Springfield,” Page said.

Company officials said they planned to include portions of East and West Possum roads in a traffic study to alleviate some concerns about safety, and would work with city and county officials to ensure residents have easy access to the grocery store.

If the South Limestone location does close, company officials said they will try to market the site to another buyer that will redevelop the property.

Initial plans for the development show it would include Clark County’s first Starbucks coffee shop, and would include a drive-through pharmacy, a health care center, a bank and a fuel center. It would also offer an online shopping service, allowing customers to shop online and pick up and pay for the groceries at their convenience.

Kroger has the option to buy the property for development, which is being annexed into the city. The annexation was approved by the Clark County commissioners last week and is expected to come before the city council in September.

A consultant for Kroger has applied to the Central CEDA Regional Planning Commission to rezone a 28.8-acre driving range property into a shopping center district at its meeting on Thursday, Aug. 4. Kroger is also in the early stages of performing a traffic study at the proposed site.

Karlos Marshall, who lives on the south side of Springfield, said he thinks the development is a step forward. However, he is concerned that many of the new jobs that will be created will be low-wage positions.

However, he said the existing store does not offer all of the services the new store would provide, so residents might benefit overall. He also said development and investment is needed in the area.

“This is a conversation that’s well past due,” Marshall said.

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