More than halfway through 2018, there remains no clear timeline for the demolition of the former Macy's building at Kingsdale Shopping Center and no public plans for how Kroger Co. intends to redevelop the site.
At the outset of the past two years, Upper Arlington City Manager Ted Staton has expressed hope that Kroger would come forward with formal development plans for its property at Kingsdale, and Upper Arlington City Council members have echoed those sentiments during State of the City addresses the past two Januarys.
But more than seven months into 2018, the company seemingly is no further along in its plans to build a store and mixed-use project at Kingsdale than it was when it announced plans to buy the 6.2-acre former Macy's site in January 2015.
Chad Gibson, Upper Arlington's senior planning officer, said Kroger hasn't submitted preliminary or final development plans for its project, nor has it indicated when it might raze the blue brick building Macy's set vacant for more than two years after serving as Kingsdale's anchor tenant for 45 years.
"No demolition applications have been submitted for the former Macy's building at Kingsdale," Gibson said. "No specific timeline is known for Kroger's plans for the former Macy's building at Kingsdale."
Gibson said city officials have "regular discussions with Kroger regarding their development plans," but he didn't know the last time those discussions had occurred.
As was the case in February, when ThisWeek Upper Arlington News requested information about its plans at Kingsdale, Kroger officials didn't grant an interview and declined to answer questions submitted by email.
"We do not have a definitive timeline that we can share, but as soon as we do, we will be sure to reach out," Kroger spokeswoman Lindsey Taylor said in an email response.
In February, Gibson said all the informal discussions with Kroger have suggested the company will seek "a mixed-use development which may or may not include retail, office, residential, restaurant, bank and grocery uses."
At that time, he said no commitments had been made "of any kind," and because Kroger owns the site, it has sole control over when and how any development will take shape.
In July, Gibson said, UA officials had hoped a mixed-use redevelopment proposal "will be brought forward soon which reflects the goals and objectives of the master plan. It is not known if this will occur in 2018."
Following ThisWeek Upper Arlington News' Feb. 22 story indicating there was no update in the project, Upper Arlington resident Charles Simonian said he has "strongly urged" the city's administration to consider buying the former Macy's site "by whatever means" and develop it into a community center.
Gibson said while the suggestion may appear an obvious and simple solution, "it's a very complicated issue."
He noted that not only has community sentiment historically varied greatly on a community center project and what the city's role should be in the former Macy's site, Kroger is the property owner and it would be costly to purchase and redevelop "such a prime piece of real estate."
Last December, Staton said he was hopeful new information about Kroger's plans at Kingsdale would come forth in 2018. But he tempered those comments by saying the project would "take a fair amount of time." He called the site is the "last, best piece of developable real estate in Upper Arlington" and said, "It's important to get right."
Last month, Staton said Kroger officials are fully aware of the city's hopes for seeing the property redeveloped and that zoning requirements require a mixed-use project.
"I am confident that Kroger is making a good-faith effort to fully explore its options in order to bring forward a proposal that not only makes good business sense for them, but will be a great fit for our community," Staton said.
"We are not in a position to dictate the pace, but we continue to express our eagerness to work with them to move this issue forward on behalf of our residents."