Why Does Kroger Continue to Avoid Urban Store Model in Cincinnati?

Kroger is one of the Queen City’s prized Fortune 500 gems. The company was founded here in 1883 and has grown into the nation’s largest grocer, and one of the nation’s largest retailers overall. While the company has done much good for the city, the question is now being asked if they are now content with their hometown market.

While public officials work to rid the city of its food deserts, Kroger has been largely absent from the conversation. Furthermore, the grocer’s remaining stores throughout the city are seemingly in a constant state of fear of closure. Cincinnati still has Kroger stores in about a half-dozen neighborhoods, but many have either fallen into disrepair or are showcases of urban design failures.

In 2008, Kroger rebuilt its East Price Hill store to the pleasure of city and neighborhood leaders. The possibility of losing the neighborhood’s only full-service grocery store was a real concern. While shiny and new, the rebuilt store now sits more than 100 feet off of Warsaw Avenue, with a sea of parking and a Kroger Fueling Station in front.

Mt. Washington had their neighborhood Kroger built in 1999. In this case, the parking for the store is off to the side of the building, and it sits right along Beechmont Avenue. However, the building includes virtually no windows, and instead of serving as an anchor for the business district is more of an eyesore. While its site plan differs from Kroger’s East Price Hill store, both are still oriented to cars, not the pedestrians or cyclists that make the respective neighborhood business districts attractive.

As UrbanCincy reported yesterday, Kroger is now working with transit officials to improve bus facilities in and around their Walnut Hills store in Peeble’s Corner. But aside from that, the store is essentially defined by the same story as its Mt. Washington counterpart.

In Corryville a different story is unfolding. First developed in the 1960s as part of what is now seen as an awful urban renewal project, Kroger’s uptown store is one of its worst. Fortunately the store will soon be torn down, but after years of discussions with neighborhood leaders and developers, it sounds as if the new store will be not much different from the existing one in terms of its form or function.

Kroger stores in Winton Place and Westwood, and the one currently under construction in Oakley, are nothing more than urban design atrocities ignorant of their surroundings.

Of course, all of this goes without discussing the poor state of Kroger’s Over-the-Rhine store, which practically sits in the shadow of the company’s global headquarters, or the fact that Kroger has yet to actively pursue a store for the city’s exploding residential population downtown.

Meanwhile, approximately 80 miles south along I-75, Kroger has worked with community leaders in Lexington on a new store near the University of Kentucky. The newly opened 86,000-square-foot store is two stories tall with parking situated on the building’s rooftop. The structure is built to the street, includes facades with windows, café seating both inside and out, local food offerings, and has been designed with the surrounding community in mind.

In short, Lexington’s brand new Kroger shines as an example for what the Cincinnati-based company could and should build in its hometown.

Cincinnati is fortunate to have Kroger headquartered here; and the half-dozen or so neighborhoods that have a store are surely thankful to not be left stranded, but at some point Cincinnati should demand better from its hometown company. It is not too late for Kroger to get it right in Corryville, Walnut Hills, Over-the-Rhine, Downtown, or any of the city’s existing neighborhoods without any access to a full-service grocer.

Cincinnati Aims to Break Ground on Next Phase of Ohio River Trail in June 2017

City officials are advancing the designs for the next phase of the Ohio River Trail. The 2.2-mile segment will run from Salem Road to Sutton Road in Cincinnati’s California neighborhood on its eastern riverfront.

Project and community leaders are excited about the work because it will fill in a gap in the Ohio River Trail that will eventually stretch 23 miles from Coney Island on the east to Sayler Park on the west. The project will also represent an approximate 50% increase in the number of completed miles of the Ohio River Trail.

While designs are still being finalized, city officials presented a conceptual design and the preferred alignment with the public at an open house held on March 25.

The designs call for a shared use, asphalt path for bicyclists and pedestrians that is 12 feet wide. There would be a six-foot setback from the road, and the path would essentially function as an extra wide sidewalk in order to avoid taking any right-of-way away from automobiles.

The preferred alignment for the shared trail would run along the eastern side of Kellogg Avenue and go through the California Woods Nature Preserve. The pathway would pass underneath I-275 at the foot of the Combs-Hehl Bridge.

Project officials say that they will take feedback given during the recent open house into consideration when developing final designs, and formulate construction cost estimates. The next public meeting will take place in October.

If all goes according to plan, detailed design work will be complete by October 2016 and construction will begin in June 2017.

Mt. Washington unveils new gateway monument, celebrates city’s first NBD recycling program

Mt. Washington community leaders will be joined by Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, representatives from Kroger, and other members of City Council to unveil a new gateway monument at the north end of the neighborhood’s business district.

City leaders say that the monument will also serve as a gateway to, and extension of, the city-owned Stanbery Park.

“The monument will serve as a welcoming feature not only for the business district, but for the park as well,” says Ed Ratterman, Senior Development Officer, City of Cincinnati. “Stanbery Park is a major asset for Mt. Washington and we hope that this will help attract a few more people there.”

The $95,000 monument is being unveiled in combination with approximately $24,000 in streetscaping enhancements throughout the business district that include new benches and 33 planters along Beechmont Avenue. The enhancements also include 10 new recycling receptacles that will serve as the foundation for the first public recycling program in one of Cincinnati’s neighborhood business districts.

“This was something that was very important to the Mt. Washington Business Association, and they wanted to include the recycling receptacles in this project,” Ratterman explained.

What makes the new recycling receptacles even more unique is their design which was created by local artist Edward Casagrande who also designed the new gateway monument for the business district. City officials say that the Office of Environment Quality has assumed the costs for Rumpke pick-up at these recycling receptacles for the first year.

According to Ratterman, the two projects were largely paid for by Cincinnati Neighborhood Business Districts United (CNBDU) which provides approximately $2 million annually for improvements throughout the city’s neighborhood business districts. An additional $7,000 was contributed by Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, while the Cincinnati Park Board helped to oversee the design components of the gateway project.

Two national community engagement movements to gather in Cincinnati tonight

Transition Town Northside will be meeting tonight at 5pm, and members of the Over-the-Rhine community will be taking part in National Night Out at historic Findlay Market.

The National Night Out event in Over-the-Rhine offers a chance for community members to engage with their local law enforcement officers. Police officers from District One of the Cincinnati Police Department will be at the event that will include food and games. Organizers state that the event is geared towards creating a safe, healthy community by strengthening relationship with the community and its police force. The event will take place at Findlay Market’s farmers shed (map) on the north side of the market house from 5pm to 6:30pm. Please contact the Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce for more information at (513) 241-2690.

The Cincinnati Police Department will also be participating in five other National Night Out events throughout the city.  District One will also be at Mt. Adams Monastery (map) from 6pm to 8pm, District Two at the Mt. Washington Recreation Center (map) from 6pm to 9pm, District Three at the Kroger Grocery on Ferguson Road (map) from 5pm to 8pm, District Four at Fleischmann Gardens Park (map) from 6pm to 8pm, and District Five at College Hill Presbyterian Church (map) from 6pm to 9pm.

Meanwhile in Northside, a group committed to helping the neighborhood build community and achieve a more fossil-free existence will be meeting from 5pm to 7pm at the McKie Center (map). The goal of Transition Town Northside is to create an umbrella under which like minded individuals and organizations can pool their efforts, with the main goal of working towards a neighborhood that is local and sustainable. The grass-roots, community effort is generally geared toward responding to the challenges presented by peak oil.

All of these events are free and open to the public and most can be accessed by Metro bus service (plan your trip). Free bicycle parking is also available in the immediate area for most locations.

This Week in Soapbox – 3/9

This Week in Soapbox UrbanCincy has the following nine stories that you must check out. Read about the American Sign Museum’s future Camp Washington home, Downtown’s new LEED demonstration center, Cincinnati’s NEP in Mt. Washington, green infrastructure projects, the Covington Neighborhood Summit, the growth of Cincinnati’s first gelato company, a local PR firm telling the city’s story, and two tremendous feature stories.

If you’re interested in staying in touch with some of the latest development news in Cincinnati please check out this week’s stories and sign up for the weekly E-Zine sent out by Soapbox Cincinnati. Also be sure to become a fan of Soapbox on Facebook!

TWIS 3/9/10:

  • American Sign Museum hopes to move into renovated Camp Washington building by 2012full article
  • GreenSource Cincinnati to celebrate grand opening downtownfull article
  • Acclaimed Neighborhood Enhancement Program rolls into Mt. Washingtonfull article
  • Cincinnati using innovative techniques to green city’s infrastructurefull article
  • Covington Neighborhood Summit to explore sense of communityfull article
  • Cincy’s first gelato company expands with “Dipping Stand”full article
  • PB&J promotes the good life in Cincinnatifull article
  • Cincinnati Wine Entrepreneur Finds Inspiration In Heritage (feature story)full article
  • Let The Games Begin (feature story)full article