As the curtain draws closed on 2019, it appears the new year will mark the five-year anniversary of the Kroger Co.’s inactivity at the site of the former Macy’s building at Kingsdale.
In January 2015, Kroger completed the purchase of the former Macy’s building and affiliated property at the Kingsdale Shopping Center. According to the Franklin County Auditor’s Office, it was a $10.5 million investment.
Now nearly five years later, nothing short of shuttering the building and occasional repairs to parking lot potholes and clearing weeds have taken place at the site.
Since the purchase, Kroger has submitted no plans for redeveloping the 6.2-acre property that served as Kingsdale’s anchor tenant for 45 years prior to the sale.
In the past, Kroger representatives have indicated they plan a mixed-use development, which may or may not include retail, office, residential, restaurant, bank and grocery uses.
Last week, Chad Gibson, Upper Arlington’s senior planning officer, said the city remains in communication with Kroger about the site, but no projects appear imminent.
“The company has not shared any direct feedback on their plans for several years,” Gibson said.
He said Kroger has offered no timeline for submitting development proposals for the site, and the company hasn’t informed city officials of plans to demolish the 105,422-square-foot Macy’s building.
In March, Amy McCormick, Kroger corporate affairs manager, said the company still was “in the process of developing the plans” for the Kingsdale property and was working with the city to do so.
“No timeline has been set for plan submission,” McCormick said at that time.
In July, when Kroger unveiled a $3.1 million remodel of its store at 1955 W. Henderson Road, McCormick repeated that “Kroger is still in the process of developing plans (for the Kingsdale site) and we continue to work with the city.”
ThisWeek Upper Arlington News submitted several questions to McCormick on Nov. 18 regarding plans for Kingsdale. She responded Nov. 20, saying the company has experienced some personnel changes and “it may be early next week before I hear back from them.”
In March, City Attorney Jeanine Hummer and Upper Arlington City Council members discussed options for possible “dark store” legislation that might seek to force the demolition of vacant buildings after a defined period of inactivity or placing further restrictions on where and how new big-box retail spaces can be built in the city.
Similar discussions took place in 2007 and 2015 but, at least to this point, have all resulted in no action.
In July, Hummer said the city hadn’t taken any action to expedite redevelopment or demolition at Kroger’s Kingsdale property, but “as with any economic-development project, the city is open to potential economic development opportunities that would benefit all parties.”
Last week, Hummer said council could approve dark-store legislation, “but a question would exist whether it may retroactively apply to the Macy’s building.”
As the five-year anniversary of Kroger’s purchase approaches, the city is left in the same place it was in January 2015, when then-City Manager Ted Staton said, “Our hope is this would be developed for a mixture of uses and the uses would be those that would provide the most economic benefit for the city.”
Last week, Gibson reiterated the city remains patiently hopeful.
“We would be open to a variety of plans that enhance Upper Arlington and meet community objectives,” he said.