Kroger plans to open a Downtown supermarket in the summer of 2019, giving neighborhood residents, city officials and boosters what they've sought for decades.
The company will build a grocery store at the corner of Court and Walnut streets as part of a $90 million, mixed-use tower, officials are announcing Tuesday. The site, next to the Hamilton County Administration building and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles between Court and Central Parkway, is currently a 175-space parking lot.
One block east of Kroger's headquarters, the two-story supermarket will anchor an 18-story project developed by the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC). It will house 139 apartments and a six-story, 550-space parking garage.
Kroger will close its smaller, unprofitable Vine Street store in Over-the-Rhine once the new store opens. Kroger officials say the 45,000-square-foot Downtown store will be a relocation of its Vine Street market with just 11,000 square feet of retail space. It will serve Over-the-Rhine, Downtown and the West End.
The new supermarket will have a second-level wine and beer bar – an amenity that Kroger also installed at its newly opened Corryville store – designed to broaden the store's appeal and encourage some shoppers to linger.
Developers will seek $8.5 million from the city for the parking garage and residential aspects of the project. Kroger is investing $19 million into the site.
Mayor John Cranley hailed the project, which must be approved by City Council, as a hard-won milestone for the city.
"I feel like getting a Downtown grocery store has been like chasing Moby Dick for 20 years and we're finally catching it!" Cranley said. "This is a sign that renaissance of Downtown and OTR is here to stay and is accelerating."
Frankly, Kroger has caught a lot of well-deserved flak for turning downtown Cincy into a food desert. It does have a store about 6 blocks north of its HQ in OTR on Vine, but as the story says, it's "not profitable" and the company hasn't bothered to build a new downtown store to serve the people in the city it calls home in decades.
That is at least looking to change, to the company's credit. That is if City Council doesn't scuttle it, which is entirely possible if they don't get what they want from Mayor Cranley out of this, so it's not a done deal by any stretch.
We'll see where this goes. After fighting the streetcar for years, Cranley really loves to take all the credit for OTR's revival. He seems really excited about this, which means the rest of City Council might have him over a barrel. I predict this will pass and get built, but it's going to cost Cranley something. Question, as always around here, is what.