Kenwood Towne Place Kroger is closing at the end of May

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - In Kenwood, people were just getting used to their new Kroger Fresh Fare Store, but very soon they'll be saying goodbye to it, because Kroger is pulling the plug.

Every shopper FOX19 spoke with was bumming big time, but Kroger says the company is going to cut their more than $8 million losses while they can, because the developer of Kenwood Towne Place is never going to finish the project.

Kroger said it greatly regrets closing the Kenwood Fresh Fare Store, but enough is enough.

"Kroger is closing the state-of-the-art store due to the failure of Kenwood Towne Place, LLC, to complete Kenwood Town Place," said Geoff Covert, Kroger President of the Cincinnati-Dayton region of stores during a news conference Monday.

Kroger said the store was built on the expectation the 310,000 square foot retail and seven-story office complex promised by the developer, would be completed and occupied on-time.

"Kroger based its business model and store design of the Fresh Fare Store on welcoming customers from the offices, the retail spaces and everyday shopping for breakfast, lunch and dinner," Covert said. "As well as serving the catering needs of the office tenants."

But that plan never materialized. The bankrupt developer is mired in lawsuits. Construction equipment has been idled nearly since Kroger opened.

"We see no end in sight to the depressing situation," Covert said. "The construction of the office tower virtually stopped in the summer 2008, one month after we opened. it's never re-started."

Kroger sunk more than $8 million into the store.

"This amount does not include construction costs, repair costs and excessive operating expenses," Covert said. "Which have been significant."

Especially since they demolished a perfectly profitable stand-alone store to make way for the one at Kenwood Towne Place.

"This is a nicer store that's convenient so this is really unfortunate that it's closing," said shopper Chris Wallace, who lives nearby. "I know we're not very happy about it."

The undeveloped areas between Kroger, LA Fitness and The Container Store look like they're stuck in a rusty time warp.

"Today the atrium lies unfinished and is deteriorating," Covert said. "The office tower is nothing but an unclad rusting steel skeleton looming over the beautiful Fresh Fare Kroger Store."

"I understand it's a business decision and understand why they're doing it," said Marianne VanVurst, who lives just across the street from the complex. "But I love this store and loved coming here."

The store's doors are set to close at 5 p.m., Sunday May 30th.

Employees here will be offered jobs at other Kroger stores. Kroger said they have no plans to build another store in the area any time soon. So, you have to go to Blue Ash or Madeira, about a mile and a half in either direction, to get to one.

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