‘Kroger left for a reason,' Springfield City Manager says

Springfield’s City Manager says Kroger made the decision to close their South Limestone Street location earlier this year because the store, “was not profitable for them.”

During a Facebook live discussion about the status of the now-vacant property at 1822 S. Limestone St., Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck said after the location closed, the city received internal documents from Kroger that showed the store “was losing money.”

“A lot of it was around products that have a shelf life," Heck said. “Unfortunately they were losing a lot of products that weren’t getting turned over quickly enough.”

This ultimately led to the grocery chain’s decision to close the location in March, Heck said. The store’s closure led to the south side of Springfield being labeled a food desert with the closest grocery store roughly four miles away.

In a statement released in February, right after Kroger announced the store would be closing, the company said the location was being closed as part of the company’s Restock Kroger plan.

“As part of the Restock Kroger plan, the company will utilize more of its capital to fund technology and infrastructure upgrades to provide its customers with a seamless shopping experience by accelerating digital growth in the region,” the statement said.

The Springfield News-Sun reached out to Kroger about Heck’s statement and did not receive a response.

Because the store “wasn’t profitable,” Heck said, the city has had a hard time bringing in another grocery store to replace it.

“Kroger left that location for a reason,” Heck said. “It’s not as easy as saying ‘Oh Kroger left, lets just put Aldi in there.' Aldi makes corporate decisions. So it’s not as easy as just saying, ‘Here is this space.' But we are certainly having those conversations."

Heck said there is no immediate timeline on when the south side of Springfield will see a grocery store. Instead, he said the city is working with Dillin LLC to “put a business plan together to make the space an attractive location for a business to go into.”

At a city meeting in early July, the city of Springfield agreed to begin working with Dillin LLC to design a plan to redevelop the former Kroger building. As part of the letter of intent, Dillin LLC president Larry Dillin will work with the city in its search for interested parties who may buy or lease the former Kroger building.

Dillin is a longtime property developer. He took over the development of the Austin Landing Project in Miamisburg in 2016 until its sale in late 2019. He was also behind the Levis Commons development in the Toledo region.

At the July meeting, Dillion said his goal for redeveloping the South Limestone property will be about more than just redeveloping or “flipping” the Kroger building. Instead, he said he wants to focus on redeveloping Springfield’s south side as a whole.

Dillion presented the city with a plan he called “Springfield 4 Corners.” The plan featured renderings of the Kroger building redesigned as a “food mart,” complete with a garden and spaces in the front of the building for food trucks to park as well as stone signage on the corner of Limestone reading “Historic South Springfield.”

There is no hard timeline for Dillin’s project, Heck said.

“I think the city’s first intent or interest is to go after and attract a private grocer into (1822 S. Limestone St.),” Heck said.

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