In The News

New West Chester Kroger Marketplace going in former activity center space

April 3, 2023  |  Kroger Marketplace
Kroger Tylersville

West Chester Twp. officials have finally closed on a $1.9 million sale of the old Activity Center on Cox Road to Kroger for a giant new Marketplace.


The closing took place Monday without a hitch. It clears the way for the store and road improvements in the area. Everyone who has been involved with the Activity Center seems pleased, including the seniors who were ousted four years ago.


“It’s one of those things where you stay in the game and we use really many different options to try to get it sold, the last thing we did was to offer it through Northridge Realty Group, they’re the ones who birddogged it the whole way through,” Trustee Mark Welch said. “As long as you remain persistent in any endeavor you usually find success at the end of the day.” 


Welch said he’s been told the plans from 2019 when the project was first proposed have generally stayed the same.


That means a 117,166-square-foot Marketplace, a Kroger fuel center and 15,000 to 25,000 square feet of new retail spaces for “existing and new to market retail, service and restaurant operators. The new Kroger would employ about 310 associates, according to the proposal. 


Welch said the roadwork the grocer wanted the township to pay for early on will also be part of the project, on Kroger’s dime. It includes new turn lanes and possibly a traffic signal.


“My understanding is what they had on the table in 2019 is still their plan,” Welch said. “Although they may make some adjustments because it’s been really four years.”


The trustees agreed for a second time to sell the old Activity Center to the giant grocer in December 2022 for nearly $2 million, after on-again-off-again negotiations since 2019.


Jenifer Moore, corporate affairs manager for Kroger’s Cincinnati/Dayton division, wouldn’t give any details about the project, but said, “We look forward to bringing a fresh and friendly customer experience to the West Chester Township area.”


In between Kroger’s initial $1.8 million offer and the deal sealed Monday, the township received two purchase offers from Dr. Mohamed Aziz who wanted it for a medical clinic, an Illinois company who wanted to open a Montessori School, a family that wanted to create an event center.


“This is a big deal, that we have a successful resolution of this property” Trustee Lee Wong said. “Many residents are very grateful that Kroger can be expanded in that area and it’s going to be a very, very nice upgrade, improvement to the old shopping center.”


When asked about the plans after the trustees approved the offer in December Ryan Ertel, who has been brokering the deal for Kroger and their landlord Regency Centers, said “there could be some modifications, a lot of time has obviously passed, those are some things we’ll need to be looking at over the next several weeks.”


Trustee Ann Becker told the Journal-News it’s a “win-win for our community.”


“Our seniors are doing great at the Boys & Girls Club during the week and at the library on Fridays,” she said adding, “the township will have a little bit of money to invest in infrastructure with the money from the sale and the east side will get a new Kroger. Everybody came out of this deal a winner.”


The trustees haven’t decided what to do with the money yet but have told the Journal-News it will likely pay for infrastructure improvements in that area.


The marketplace project was contingent on Regency Centers being able to acquire the Activity Center, the Providence Bible Fellowship church, a sliver from Chesterwood Village and easements and agreements with about 10 other property owners to complete the complicated deal.


Ertel told the Journal-News Tuesday he has new contracts with the Dixon family that retained the Chesterwood Village piece when they sold their business last year and the church.


In the beginning officials said redeveloping the 33-year-old store site would triple property values and increase the tax bill from $169,000 to more than $500,000 annually and double the plaza footprint to about 20 acres.


According to the Butler County auditor’s website, the Regency Center plaza is valued at $7 million and generates $167,448 in property tax. The township’s cut is $39,133.


The Activity Center came into play after Community First Solutions stopped providing senior programming in 2019. Shortly thereafter, the township agreed to sell the building for $1.8 million to Kroger’s landlord Regency Centers.


After the seniors complained loudly about their ouster, the trustees mulled three options to provide community meeting space namely: renovating the Activity Center — there was a very rough cost estimate of $3.4 million — installing heat and air conditioning in the Muhlhauser Barn so the seniors could use the lower level and an estimated $5.5 million MidPointe Library expansion.


The trustees discarded all of those ideas, largely because they said providing programming and activities isn’t one of their core duties and it would be too costly to renovate and staff the center.


The seniors have had to jump around a bit but now have places to congregate. Nancy and Jack Williams took the lead trying to find a new home for the seniors from the beginning, she said they have the Boys & Girls Club during the school year and Lakota West in the summer.


She said they had 45 members when they were “kicked out” of the Activity Center and now they number 95.


“We are extremely, extremely happy with being at the Boys & Girls Club,” she said. “We absolutely love it, the building is so much better — we have a gym for one thing — than what we had, and when we saw it deteriorating it’s like boy we’re glad we’re not there.”