Kroger Halts Project in Colonial Heights
By CHAI GALLAHUN
Jun 28, 2017, 11:02
The former location of the Colonial Heights Courthouse anticipated to rise from its former ashes to become a Kroger grocery store attended by locals as a source for groceries, supplies and nourishment. Now, that future has been nullified.
REGIONAL – The dreams and designs of having a Kroger in Colonial Heights are now gone with the wind. According to Mayor T. Gregory Kochuba, a representative from Kroger announced that the company is changing their strategy for opening new stores.
Unfortunately for the citizens of Colonial Heights, that means that the grocer company will no longer open a store in this area.
“People were so excited,” said Kochuba. “It would’ve generated 200 jobs and new revenue for the city. We’re disappointed and not happy about that decision at all. Also, so many of the Fort Lee civilian employees are disappointed.” He explained that many civilian employees from the fort commute past the location.
The Mayor explained that the Kroger representative informed council that this was not just unique to Colonial Heights, but Kroger has altered their store placement strategy nationwide.
So, does this mean that the entire Kroger affair has been a total loss for Colonial Heights? Had the Mayor and City Council not been foresightful enough to include two distinct clauses in the formal arrangements, most likely. “We were wise enough to put two clauses in the contract,” said Kochuba. The Mayor explained the essential details, starting with the first clause: “If they [Kroger] decided not to build, we have the right to buy back the property at a discounted rate.” The next clause council added stated that if the city did not wish to buy-back the property, Kroger could still sell it to someone else. “Kroger can market it,” explained Kochuba, “but, before they can sign-off on the deal, the city has to approve the deal.” These two clauses give the city a tremendous advantage because now the decision is in their hands.
Some people may still be stumped at how all this reversal even happened in the first place. After all, Kroger had bought the property and had designs on expanding their food distribution network by opening a store in Colonial Heights. The city had funded the laying of sewer pipes for Kroger, who in turn was going to assist in the funding of the portion of the VDOT Roundabout project where Hamilton intersects Temple (since that is the intersection customers would have used to enter the Kroger’s parking lot). So, what happened?
Apparently, a local neighbor filed a law suit about the Kroger project. While the law suit was thrown out, it delayed progress on the construction of the grocery store. The delay elevated the project to Kroger’s awareness when they conducted a review of their store opening strategy nationwide. In a business decision, it was decided to abandon the Colonial Heights location and cancel construction.
However, all is not lost and even the dark clouds of the canceled Kroger project have potential silver linings. “Once the roundabout is finished, it will be a more valuable property,” said Kochuba. When asked if there were any ideas about what to do with the property in the future, should the city wish to regain it, he said, “We would want something attractive to the area because it will be the gateway to the city.”
The Kroger situation might have been a disaster for Colonial Heights. But, because of careful planning and the two clauses included in the contract, the city controls the fate of the property whether it decides to buy it back or not.