Springfield officials say redevelopment in southside goes beyond new grocery store

Springfield city officials say redevelopment efforts in the southside go beyond simply adding a grocery in the area as they look to redevelop the South Limestone Street corridor.

The area is currently a food desert as a Kroger location there closed in March of last year, impacting an estimated 22,000 people. That closure prompted community discussions of not only finding a replacement but making sure that when a new grocery opened, it would be supported enough to stay.

Springfield officials announced on Tuesday that a new full-service grocery store will be occupying the former Kroger building on South Limestone by the end of the year, something they say was a top priority for the area.

Kroger donated its former South Limestone site to Springfield shortly after it closed.

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But with a grocery coming back to the area, Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck said the city is still focused on larger redevelopment projects in the southside. That includes looking at ways to add more greenspace, revitalize vacant buildings and bring in local entrepreneurs.

Springfield city commissioners approved during a public meeting on Tuesday a redevelopment agreement with Groceryland LLC. As a result, the former Kroger property would be sold to the company that will in turn invest $2 million into improvements on the 29,000 square-foot space.

Groceryland’s president is Ravindra Patel who, along with local physician Vipul Patel, owns several grocery stores in the Dayton and Columbus areas, including one in New Lebanon as well as a grocery store called Warsaw Shopwise in Warsaw, Ohio. Their family also owns a food business in Xenia.

Vipul Patel says that he has been practicing medicine in Springfield since 2003 and feels that opening a grocery store in the southside is not only a business opportunity, but also fulfilling a crucial community need.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

He said that Groceryland become interested in potentially purchasing the property after hearing concerns about the area being a food desert.

“As a physician, the first step to consider is the point of need. Home, hospital or grocery store, I am ready to meet the community of Springfield right where they are. Groceryland is just a look inside of the greater vision I have,” Patel said.

The store will offer fresh meat as well as fresh fruits and produce. Patel said that Groceryland had been in talks with the city for over four months before an official agreement was reached.

He said they have also been working with area realtor Sunny Dhingra, with Always Sunny Realty, and they purchased the former Kroger property from the city for around $769,000.

Renovations to the site are expected to start in June by Groceryland LLC, which will be the developer of the property. The grocery is slated to be open to customers by the end of the year with the expectation of adding 60 new jobs as well as generating $1.2 million in payroll in the area.

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Having a grocery replace Kroger once it left the area was listed as a number one priority for the area after a series of community conversations last year.

However, with Groceryland coming in, city officials say they are still looking at investment opportunities that would complement the new grocery store as well as redefine an area that has seen disinvestment in the past.

That includes working with developer Dillin LLC to look at further development opportunities in the area.

That could be in the form of beatification projects, transforming and filling vacant buildings as well as working with entrepreneurs who would preferably be from the south side of the city.

Though the city does not own property adjacent to the Kroger property, officials have been in conversations with those owners, Heck said. The city also owns property on John Street, which use to be the site of a former auction house.

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Larry Dillin, president of Dillin LLC, said the goal remains to revitalize the entire area and his team is continuing to engage community members. He said that includes looking ways to utilize different spaces in the area as there are a lot of other vacant properties that are available.

Dillin said that he supports the decision to sell the Kroger property to Groceryland as it fits the primary goal of making the area no longer a food desert.

By the numbers

$2M: The amount of money Groceryland will invest in the former South Limestone Kroger site

$769,000: Amount of money that Groceryland purchased the property from the City of Springfield

22,000: Estimated number of people affected by Kroger’s closure

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