This Kroger store on North Limestone Street in Springfield is slated to close in 2019. Kroger says it will not renew its lease on the building. The property owners are exploring options for new tenants. JEFF GUERINI/STAFF

Developer reviewing options for Kroger store set to close next year

The owners of a Kroger location set to close early next year said there are several options for the property’s future, and some initial research is already underway for potential tenants.

Last week, Kroger told the News-Sun it will close its location at 2300 N. Limestone St., one of the chain’s five stores located within the city of Springfield. Erin Rolfes, a spokeswoman for the grocery store chain, said Kroger has declined to renew its lease on the property and will close the store early next year. Instead, Kroger is investing a total of about $10 million in renovation at separate stores on Derr Road and East Main Street.

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The property at 2300 N. Limestone is owned by a trust made up of several owners, said Tom Loftis, an owner and co-founder of Midland Properties. Midland is a commercial real estate firm founded in Springfield in 1981.

There are several options for the property’s future, including finding another grocery store chain or another large retailer to lease the building. The site could also be split into a few separate lots to attract a handful of tenants, he said. Kroger’s lease expires at the end of January next year, he said.

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The goal is to have a new tenant in place by the time Kroger leaves the site, although it’s hard to say how long it will take to find a new user, Loftis said. Officials from Kroger did not return a call seeking comment Monday.

“It takes time to evaluate the market,” Loftis said.

The location could be a good fit for other grocery chains although Loftis said his company is just beginning to research new potential tenants for the site. Earlier this year, Marc’s Grocery Store said it will take over a former Kroger location in Kettering at 2100 E. Whipp Road. That store is expected to open this week.

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Officials from Marc’s could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon. It’s possible another grocer like Marc’s could be identified as a tenant for the Springfield site, Loftis said. But he said it’s still early in the process and what works in one community might not necessarily work in other locations, he said.

“You’ve got to match the demographics with the community and they’ve got to be interested too,” Loftis said of prospective tenants.

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The site at 2300 N. Limestone was previously a Big Bear grocery store, but Kroger began leasing the property years ago when Big Bear went out of business, Loftis said.

“They’ve been a good client and we wish them well,” Loftis said of Kroger.

Kroger officials previously told the News-Sun the North Limestone location would remain open until renovations were complete at two other locations at 2728 E. Main St. and 2989 Derr Road.

Kroger also operates locations at 965 N. Bechtle Ave. and 1822 S. Limestone St.

Earlier this year, Kroger said it was scrapping previous plans to build a roughly $20 million Marketplace grocery store in Springfield’s southern corridor. At that time, company officials said the chain was instead devoting resources to boosting technology and making improvements in existing stores.

Those issues also played a role in the company’s decision to close the North Limestone location, according to information from Kroger.

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