A Case in Favor of the Kroger Marketplace: Sometimes the way to save something old is with something new

I was very much against the proposed Kroger Marketplace at the corner of 747 and Taylorsville Road in West Chester, Ohio. The opposition was because the people around the community didn’t want it and the developer didn’t seem to want to construct the buffer zone that was needed to appease the community according to news reports. The Kroger store was supposed to be a service to the community in a positive way, but the people who had moved in and around the area obviously didn’t want anything to do with it. So the trustees listened to the voters instead of laying down flat for the developers and the project halted, which I applauded. Now a different developer wants to build a Marketplace literally at the end of my street, and I am quite happy about it. So what’s the difference?

For several decades now the RT 4 corridor that runs a short way through Liberty Township, Ohio has been an optimal area for commercial and business development. When I arrive home after a long trip I cherish my hometown intersection of RT 4 and Liberty Fairfield Road which includes a traditional Kroger store that has been swelling over the years to a breaking point. Often my wife and I go to the strip mall where the Kroger currently exists and eat Chinese food at the little place there which I think is some of the finest in the country. On a Saturday, traffic is terrible because that Kroger is so swelled making further quests into the surrounding businesses unattractive.

The prospect of a 133,868 square foot Kroger Marketplace being built just up the road and diagonally across from the Elk Run golf course to replace the current one is very attractive just because the business at the old one is so robust that it demands an expansion. I purposely don’t like going to Kroger because it’s just too cramped. We typically get our Chinese food and go home because driving through and around the Kroger parking lot is just too cramped that it’s not worth it. One of the benefits of that particular intersection and the developments there is that everything is so spread out, so traffic is typically handled well. I’m happy to see a new Waffle House being erected next to the Taco Bell and LaRosa’s which is across from the McDonald’s and Skyline Chili. There are so many dining options at that intersection that it looks deceptively rural. But, I can get just about everything I need there. I can get my car repaired. I can purchase advanced firearms. I can get all my household maintenance needs between Tractor Supply and Ace Hardware. My wife and I frequently eat at the Frisch’s. Our banking is there, there’s a Hallmark. A Beverage Barn is run by a wonderful Indian family and were among the first in the area to special order Mello Yello for me directly, before the Coke Company resumed distribution back to the Cincinnati area a few years ago. There are so many positive developments that allow my family to do virtually everything we need to do within two miles of our home and I love it.   But the grocery experience is just too inconvenient.

http://www.journal-news.com/news/news/public-hearing-for-new-butler-county-kroger-resche/njmb4/

The wealth of the area is conducive to the type of grocery experience that a Kroger Marketplace offers. I like the options offered in the other Liberty Township Kroger store which is a Marketplace—but it’s too far away to be considered convenient. So for me the Kroger Marketplace offers a fix to my present dilemma and the zoning for years has wanted to move in that direction at that particular location, the corner of Kyles Station and RT. 4. There are of course people who enjoy the view of an empty field, including myself. I still enjoy the sight of the occasional farming that takes place on that high hill which looks down into Trenton within the valley of the Great Miami River. But for business development, that particular location is one of the best in the area and is needed due to the value of the developments surrounding it.

There are homes around my property that are in the half million dollar range. The Elk Run Golf course I think is one of the nicest in the city—as it is very picturesque and classy. It’s a bit dated, but is due for an update which will only come if people continue to see the value in it. In a lot of ways the new Kroger will do a lot to bring the proper demographic of financial value to the area directly across from the golf course to appreciate what Elk Run offers as an asset of Liberty Township. Of that new demographic is the residents of the new Carriage Hill development which featured Homarama two consecutive years with homes upward of a million dollars in value. People who have homes like that don’t want to be cramped into a box full of dated architecture and limited shelf space. They want options, high-end cooking ingredients, and a shopping experience that is professional, and free of neurosis. The proposed Kroger Marketplace in Liberty Township is poised to provide all those options and more because the location, view, and proximity to so many family dwellings is just phenomenal.

The West Chester location was nothing like the Liberty Township location as far as placement and overall community impact. The West Chester location needed a developer that understood what the community was weary of. That particular intersection along 747 is very busy already as the Lakota school down the road really mounts up the traffic in the morning and afternoons. The homes in the immediate area already have to contend with a great deal of traffic on crowded roads. But in Liberty Township along RT 4, the road infrastructure is already built; it just needs the construction to begin.

As for the complaints, local residents won’t want to trade their view of a grassy field for a parking lot full of cars. I will be impacted as my wife and I enjoy evenings in our hot tub looking at the stars. The lights from the new Kroger will add to the light pollution which will dilute out more stars from our view.   But it’s a small price to pay for the types of high-end food offerings that are typical of a Kroger Marketplace. I will gladly welcome the new development as it will greatly enhance my life and does what new creations are supposed to—it will improve life in the community. It will bring a fresh new awareness not just to the area, but to the legacy items currently already there and in a state of decline.

To this day the Western Row golf course is an empty field. The course died years ago before the spur of development along Mason-Montgomery Rd occurred and there are no takers to develop such a large plot of highly expensive real-estate now that the prices are through the roof. The property is too expensive for a golf course, and too large for more restaurants and small stores.  So it sits in limbo. I would like to not see the same thing happen to Elk Run. I love the Elk Run property. I love the golf course. But because taxes are so high, it would be too expensive to privately own if the golf course fails in the future. And it’s too big to fill with business. It has taken twenty years to fill what has been built along that span of RT 4—so it’s not logical to expect Elk Run to fill with anything but more homes at some point. So for those who love green space and the scenery on top of the big hill in Liberty Township the best way to preserve it is to fully support the new Kroger Marketplace in Liberty Township. What’s wrong with a round of golf before a grocery shopping trip? Nothing at all. At the proposed location I would hope that the Elk Run golf course would enjoy new life from a new demographic support system instead of fading away into the sunset as an older generation moves on to greener pastures and a new generation perpetually looks for something new. Sometimes it takes something new to keep the old alive—and in this case, the new Kroger Marketplace will do just the trick.

Rich Hoffman

Visit Cliffhanger Research and Development

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