Kroger plans approved by Springfield commissioners

By the numbers

$20 million: Estimated total investment for proposed Kroger Marketplace store on Ohio 72.

123,000: Estimated square footage at the new store.

350: Estimated number of employees at Kroger.

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun first broke the news about a proposed $20 million Kroger Marketplace in Springfield Twp. in April and has closely tracked it since then, including stories digging into concerns about traffic and why supporters say new development is needed.

A controversial, proposed $20 million Kroger development on Ohio 72 will likely move forward after Springfield city commissioners unanimously approved annexing 100 acres and a related rezoning Tuesday evening.

The planned Kroger Marketplace, set to be constructed south of Interstate 70 on a former Springfield Twp. driving range, is expected to bring about 350 new jobs to the city

The proposed development on 28 acres at 2630 Springfield-Jamestown Road has divided residents, largely along city and township lines, since it was first announced in April.

Concerns have included traffic, trash, effect on the rural township and the loss of the current South Limestone Street store on the neighborhood. Supporters have cited the new jobs, expanded options and need for new development on the south side.

Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said he would have preferred Kroger build its new store north of the interstate. During his long tenure on commission, he said he’s worked to bring a new grocery store to the south side.

“They’re going to do it and it’s going to be bigger and better than (former Springfield Mayor Dale Henry) imagined back in those days,” Copeland said. “That’s something I don’t see how we can pass up, even if it isn’t exactly where I wish it would be.”

Springfield currently has five Krogers. The South Limestone location will likely close if the new store is built on Ohio 72, company officials have said. The existing store employs about 40 people and the expanded one would have up to 350 jobs.

Commissioner Kevin O’Neill thanked Kroger for investing in Clark County and Springfield.

“You could’ve stopped when you built your three new stores on the north, west and east sides of town,” O’Neill said.

>>RELATED: Clark County residents split over proposed $20M Kroger

Kroger is in the midst of a traffic study for the property on Ohio 72, which is about 60 percent complete and has been expanded to include a larger area, according to its zoning consultant.

Springfield leaders and First Transit — which runs the bus service for the city — have discussed changing routes to go to the new location but no decisions have been made.

Commissioner Joyce Chilton took all of the comments into consideration, she said, especially about traffic.

“I’m going on faith that the traffic study and Kroger will come through with their part of the deal,” Chilton said.

The new store near the interstate will encourage more retail opportunities on the south side, Commissioner Dan Martin said, much of which is already zoned for businesses.

“A lot of communities would love to be this close to an interstate highway,” Martin said. “If we don’t allow development here, I guess I don’t really understand where else in the community would make sense to have commercial development.”

>>DETAILS: Traffic, other concerns with $20M Kroger in Springfield Twp. debated

Kroger Marketplace stores are often much larger and include a wider selection than the company’s traditional grocery stores, including clothing, furniture and home goods.

Initial development plans submitted to the city’s Community Development Department show the popular Seattle-based Starbucks Coffee will have a location inside the big box store. It could also have a pharmacy with drive-through, Little Clinic health care center, bank with drive-through and a 20,000-square-foot Kroger Fuel Center, public records show.

The plans also show two nearly 10,000-square-foot outlots near the fuel center.

Springfield Twp. trustees couldn’t vote on the issue because it was an expedited annexation, Trustee Tim Foley said. He hopes city leaders will take concerns — such as lighting and noise buffers — voiced by township residents into consideration as the development moves forward.

“I am hopeful I am given the opportunity as trustee to provide input on this project to ensure responsible development,” Foley said.

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