The giant new Kroger Marketplace in West Chester Twp. has cleared a major hurdle with an agreement involving the Providence Bible Fellowship church on Cox Road.
The township trustees finalized a $1.8 million deal with Kroger’s landlord, Regency Centers, in September to sell the former township Activity Center to clear the way for a giant new grocery and retail center. The acquisition allowed for a new 95,545-square-foot Kroger to replace the existing store, but the grocery giant and retail center owners needed two other properties to build a 117,166-square-foot Marketplace.
Regency has to purchase the Providence church and a portion of the adjacent Chesterwood Village property, which is owned by Hillandale Communities. The agreement with West Chester stated if Regency was unable to secure the church property within 90 days, it could terminate the agreement with the township. The 90 days will expire next week.
After that 90 days, the agreement can’t be terminated unless something adverse is discovered during the due diligence period, there is an issue with zoning or Kroger won’t sign a lease. The Chesterwood land purchase was not a deal breaker.
Ryan Ertel, senior leasing agent at Regency, said they “are under contract with Providence.”
Trustee Board President Mark Welch said he is satisfied Regency has fulfilled the agreement with the township to this point, “they’ve accomplished basically what they needed to do.”
Butler County Commissioner Don Dixon, whose family owns Hillandale, said negotiations are progressing.
“We’re communicating back and forth and it looks like it has a good probability of maybe working out,” Dixon said.
A new lease with Kroger is another obvious requirement. The grocery giant has paused some Butler County projects, like the Kyles Station location in Liberty Twp., but Ertel said previously he is confident that won’t happen with the Cox Road project.
“Kroger has been a tenant in the shopping center for several decades, and for the last 12 years, I’ve been working with Kroger to right-size the store,” Ertel said. “There’s a history here of over 10 years of them wanting to expand the store. So I think that’s the goal and I have heard nothing differently from them that they’ve changed directions.”
The Activity Center used to house senior programming and other activities, before the Kroger deal was on the table. A number of concerned seniors implored the trustees not to evict them a year ago. Community First, the non-profit that ran the programming at the center for 10 years, elected to non-renew its dollar-a-year lease at the center this year.
The seniors took up temporary residence for their programming at the MidPointe Library in October.
The trustees have considered taking some of the Activity Center sale proceeds to renovate the basement of the Muhlhauser Barn to house senior and other community activities.
“We’re still seeking bids for that, it’s not in the 2020 budget,” Welch said. “We’re still working, at this point the MidPointe Library seems to be working pretty well and seniors seem to be satisfied. Because it’s still in transition it’s giving us a little bit more time to nail down the barn.”
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