The South Park Kroger- or how to guarantee a lawsuit.

If a new Kroger gets built anywhere around South Park- it will be a major miracle at this point. So many mistakes have been made- and more are sure to come.

For those of you who don’t know the history- in a nutshell:

The existing Kroger, which has more nicknames than parking spaces (Creepy Kroger, Ka-Ka Kroger, full-contact Kroger, butt-crack Kroger, crappy Kroger- etc) is small by today’s standards, and not owned by Kroger.

They wanted a new 80,ooo sq ft. style store, and hired MidLand Atlantic to be a developer – and assemble a package of land at the North East corner of Wayne and Wyoming. Midland came in- made good offers above market value to property owners but had a few hold-outs and let their options expire.

In stepped the city- heavy handedly declaring the area “blighted” and threatening eminent domain. Note- this is use of eminent domain for a private entity- not the public good- something that isn’t that well received. Their offers to the home owners were for considerably less than Midland Atlantic’s offers. The residents felt like they were screwed- especially, since many people had stopped doing maintenance on their homes once the original offers had come. Once the blight designation was in place- their homes had been devalued by the city- a break in the basic trust factor that we believe our government is there to protect our property values through their actions- not devalue them- that’s why we pay taxes, damn it.

There is also a sticking point with the “Ecki” building. An interesting building that has been left to rot on the corner thanks to a landlord who pocketed the insurance money after someone torched it. Some claim it’s historic- others just recognize it for what it is- funky- and others who just say- tear it down – but, this is a minor sideshow to the big story.

So- now, we’re at an impasse. The city either has to step in and make payments comparable or better than Midland Atlantic- or face lawsuits to restore the value that they sucked out of the properties with their “blight” designation. Either way- the project has gotten more expensive.

Unfortunately- there were other options, for this development that were either never discussed- or were side-swiped before they had a chance.

One option was a plan put in place by Jeff Samuelson and Unified Developers to build a new store on the DMHA Cliburn Manor site that is to be vacated and raised by fall of 07. He had secured options on all the parcels but one- and the plan could have moved forward without that parcel. Somehow, Miami Valley Hospital, CityWide Development and our Neighborhood President, Karin Manovich derailed this plan before it had a real chance. This location would have helped enhance the Brown Warren corridor, provided a on-the-way home option for MVH, UD and NCR employees headed to US 35 and I-75, and also for Downtown employees heading back to Oakwood and Kettering- via the newly reopened 2-way traffic from Patterson to Warren.

But- it was never to happen. The sad thing is that the developer who has already proved his commitment to the area- with a string of successes on Brown Street- was treated like a second class citizen- while the carpet baggers from Midland Atlantic were allowed to talk trash and even waltz out some phony drawings of a development that would never happen here- as an option for the Cliburn site.

The last option- one that was never discussed, was putting Kroger on the corner of Stewart and Brown on property UD acquired in a sweetheart deal from NCR. This would provide students with a walkable grocery solution- as well as build on the strengths of the Unified Developers projects. It would also be accessible to the near West Side folks from Edgemont. No buildings to tear down, no parking lots to build. But, of course- we can’t even begin to talk about that. As an even more pie-in-the-sky idea, the Fairgrounds could also easily handle a new Kroger- but that’s a discussion for another day.

In the meantime, it’s too bad that Kroger doesn’t have the vision to try to build a new store on the old location- flush on the street- maybe with parking on the roof. If real estate was as valuable here as it is in big-cities, this would be looked at in a heartbeat.

The reason I penned this today- was because someone asked me if I had written about it on this blog. I searched- and didn’t see anything- so, this is my take on it.

No matter what Kroger does- I hope they realize that we don’t need a suburban sized store here- but, we would like one that has been taken care of and doesn’t feel like yet another one of it’s nicknames- the “Deliverance Krogers.”

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