A Sandy Springs Kroger’s surprise closure announcement is being greeted with surprise by its landlord and anticipation from city officials seeking higher-end redevelopment on northern Roswell Road.
Kroger has operated a supermarket at 8331 Roswell Road in the Northridge Shopping Center for more than 35 years, according to company spokesperson Felix Turner. But it will shutter the store effective Oct. 25.
“The store has experienced declining sales and negative profit over an extended period of time and its closure is necessary to make Kroger more competitive in the market,” Turner said in an email.
That suddenly leaves the 10.7-acre shopping center, between busy Northridge Road and Northridge Parkway, without its anchor tenant.
To such officials as City Councilmember Ken Dishman, there’s a silver lining. The city has made a priority in its new land-use plan and zoning code of redeveloping Roswell Road’s older shopping centers and apartments into higher-end, mixed-use versions.
“While we are disappointed for our good corporate citizens at Kroger,” Dishman said in an email, “we hope the closure will open the door to a large scale redevelopment of the entire shopping center property into a highly desirable use for our community.”
“The property is zoned SX-3, Shopfront Mixed Use, and it could be an ideal location for an amazing mixed use project with town homes and higher end restaurants and retailers,” Dishman added, referring to the city’s new zoning code.
The area of Northridge Road between Roswell Road and Ga. 400 has long been eyed by MARTA for a possible new station on its planned Red Line train extension, and the city has planned for redevelopment related to that.
But residents in the area already have seen one promised shopping center redevelopment stall after an anchor tenant left. Big Lots left the North Springs shopping center at 7300 Roswell Road last year, but pollution cleanup at a former dry cleaning business is limiting the options and slowing reuse, Dishman and others have said.
Meanwhile, Dominic Sabatini, the shopping center’s California-based owner, said he just wants another anchor store, pronto.
“It’s kind of a shock, because Kroger doesn’t give you any hint of what their plans are,” said Sabatini, adding that Kroger previously told him that “sales have been going up every year for the last five years,” but the company felt it wasn’t making enough profit. He noted that Kroger had not renovated the store in about 15 years and said the rest of the complex is fully rented.
As to what type of replacement tenant he’s considering, Sabatini said, “A grocer, preferably.” He noted the area’s apartments and highway access make it a good location for a supermarket. But Kroger’s move has him wondering about the grocery business.
“If Kroger’s not doing good, I don’t know how the others are doing,” since it’s among the lower-priced chains, he said, noting that a Publix operates nearby.
The German grocer Lidl earlier this year backed out of a plan to open in the North River Shopping Center, about a mile up the road from the Kroger, due to community pressure about traffic and its discount pricing.
Sabatini said he has talked to city economic development department officials for advice and will meet with them shortly.
Asked about any other planned store closures in metro Atlanta, Turner would only say that “at this time we have no further information” about such plans.
Kroger operates two other Sandy Springs locations: One in the City Walk shopping center off Hammond Drive near Roswell Road, and another in the Fountain Oaks shopping center at 4920 Roswell Road, that street’s southern stretch. The City Walk location recently cut back its former 24-hour operations, and the Fountain Oaks location has a long-stalled expansion and renovation plan.