Reynoldsburg’s new Kroger store is so fresh, it’s a prototype.

The $20 million store, 6580 E. Main St., opens at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, with a celebration that will include reusable shopping bags containing gift cards between $5 and $100 handed out to the first 300 customers.

Store hours will be 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily.

Ahead of the grand opening, ThisWeek Reynoldsburg News was given an exclusive tour of the new store.

At 103,000 square feet, the location is more than double the size of the previous store down the road at 6962 E. Main St. That location closed Nov. 19.

With a neutral color palette and wood, tile and stainless-steel accents, the new store marks the “first prototype” of a new design, said Amy McCormick, Kroger Co. corporate-affairs manager.

“You are going to experience Kroger as a food authority,” McCormick said. “For Kroger, it was time for us to be able to expand in Reynoldsburg. There’s a lot of growth in the town, and we wanted to be able to give our customers more selection, more variety and more food options.”

With expanded selections of meat and seafood, wine and produce, the store’s deli includes a test kitchen where shoppers can sample recipes and the ability to order sliced meats and cheeses for in-store pickup using the Kroger Fresh app. A large prepared food section includes sushi, chicken and sandwich meal options with a by-the-pound salad bar.

An in-store dining area features a Reynoldsburg-themed mural by local artist Desiree Kelly, who moved to the area from Detroit in 2015.

A Murray’s gourmet cheese shop, Starbucks and in-store liquor agency round out the upgrades.

Eight dedicated lanes for Kroger Pickup (formerly ClickList) and a drive-thru pharmacy add to the convenience.

The store expects to handle up to a dozen online pickup orders per hour, said Brandon Marcum, Reynoldsburg store leader.

With Kroger for nearly 20 years, Marcum started as a bagger and worked his way up to management, overseeing three other central Ohio locations before coming to Reynoldsburg.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind store for the Columbus division of Kroger,” Marcum said.

“I’m looking forward to the customers and the new people. Making sure that when the customer comes in, we have everything they want and don’t have to go to different places, is the thing I hang my hat on. And they’ll see our smiling faces along the way.”

A bigger store meant the staff more than doubled, for a total of 270 employees at the new location, Marcum said.

The store is Energy Star-certified, McCormick said, with LED lighting throughout, sensors that dim display case lights when not in use and a heat reclaim system to capture and recycle heat produced by the refrigeration systems.

Kroger broke ground on the store in December 2018 after completing a gas station on site, near the intersection of Rosehill Road and East Main.

The company had to buy 13 separate parcels totaling 16 acres, which were at one time home to a trailer park, a horse farm and retail shops, including a gift store and tanning salon, said Andrew Bowsher, Reynoldsburg’s development director.

The city in 2018 enacted a tax-increment-financing (TIF) mechanism on the Kroger site. A TIF is an economic-development mechanism available to local governments to finance public-infrastructure improvement, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency. It locks in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation is approved, diverting the incremental revenue from traditional property-tax-collecting entities to designated uses, such as funding necessary improvements or infrastructure to support a new development.

The Kroger development is projected to bring in about $2 million over the 30-year term of the TIF, Bowsher said.

The new Kroger marks the first step in the “evolution” of Main Street, Bowsher said, and already has helped the city attract other nearby businesses, including a Wright-Patt Credit Union and Swenson’s restaurant, both of which were approved by the city’s planning commission this fall.

“Main Street is the main artery of our city, and once revitalized we can work our way out and continue revitalizing other areas of the city, like the Brice (Road) and Livingston (Avenue) corridor,” he said.