West Chester’s Ohio 747 corridor has seen enormous growth in the past several years, including TriHealth Physician Partners’ Group Health facility, Children’s Learning Adventure and several restaurants, and the three-building West Chester Trade Center under construction at the corner of Union Centre Boulevard and Princeton-Glendale Road.
“Kroger joins that group today with a better store to serve its customers,” said township Administrator Larry Burke said Thursday. “In the years to come, the retail development will employ people, serve local customers and demonstrate an investment that (West Chester is) a great a community.
West Chester is the 38th “Best Place to Live in the U.S.,” according to Money Magazine, and Kroger, along with other companies like it, are part of the reason the township made that list, Burke said.
West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance President and CEO Joe Hinson agreed.
“When you have a Fortune 500 (company) that doesn’t forget its roots and continues to give back to the community, that’s special and we all thrive by having them here,” Hinson said.
Trustee Lee Wong said the township placed 21 conditions on site development and “Kroger met every one of them,” something he said shows the company is “a good corporate citizen that cares about the community.”
Kroger spokeswoman Erin Rolfes said the company is constantly looking at the sales rate of each region, examining where the greatest need is and re-evaluating to determine which stores need renovating and which ones need replacing.
“This just seemed like the right time to build a new store in West Chester,” she said.
The effort to do so started in late 2012 and was met with resident concerns over the possibility of increased light, noise, pollution and traffic. A suggestion for denial in 2013 from the township’s zoning commission led the developer to pull plans for the site.
Township trustees in 2014 voted down revised plans, leading to a lawsuit by the developer. In February 2016, West Chester Twp. trustees approved a consent decree plan for the new Kroger with the developer and property owners.
The new location, which includes a Kroger fuel center outside, features a bevy of dining options inside, including pizza, chicken and sushi, and its own dining area. There’s also an entire section dedicated to Dip, Kroger’s private label, grab-and-go fashion apparel brand that includes apparel for women, men, juniors, children and babies.
“You’ll see that cool set of clothing here in this store that you might not see in other ones across the Tri-State,” Rolfes said.
Also in the new store is a Kroger first: a beauty destination that allows customers to mix and match bath bombs and bath salts, she said.
“We sell those products in other stores but we’ve really chosen to highlight them here because of the customer who’s here and we know that’s what they’re looking for,” Rolfes said.
The store is the anchor of the Crossings of Beckett, a shopping center by Silverman and Co. that will include Ambiance Nail Spa, SuperCuts and PetPeople. It’s constructed on a site that was the farm of the Hutzelman family since the early 19th century and an east-west road at the center, Hutzelman Farm Drive, is set to be named in their honor.
Jane Lesaint, of West Chester Twp., who shopped at the new store Thursday with her 4-month-old son, said it is “much better” than the previous Ohio 747 location.
“It’s nice for me because I have him and it’s like a one-stop-shop kind of thing, so that makes it a lot better,” she said. “It’s obviously a huge store, but for me it’s convenient, it’s worth it.”
Ashley Lang, a West Chester resident since 2009, said she was “amazed” by store’s size and the variety of items it offered.
“(There’s) lots of things to pick from and choose from,” Lang said. “Obviously now they have the space to give us that opportunity.”
Facts & Figures: New Kroger in West Chester Twp.
133,000: square footage of new location
71,000: square footage of previous location
200: number of employees transferred from previous location to new one
150: amount of new jobs projected to be created by the end of the first year of operation
$24 million: approximate amount Kroger invests in each new Marketplace location, including property acquisiton and construction