COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- Nearly three years after the mayor of Colonial Heights announced a Kroger grocery store would move onto property where the city's old courthouse once stood, a "Coming Soon" sign in front of the old Temple Avenue building is the only indication that development might someday happen there.
When plans were first announced, the new Kroger was to open in Summer 2015. One year later, no work had been done to transform the old courthouse into a brand new grocery store.
"They've not complied with our development agreement to have the building under construction," Colonial Heights City Manager Tom Mattis said. "We had expected the new building to be under construction and certainly the old courthouse to be removed."
When asked about a timetable for the project, a Kroger spokesperson said the new opening date would be in the Fall of 2017. Of course, that opening date is tentative.
"We understand the frustration regarding the delays of the project. At the same time, we appreciate the curiosity and excitement regarding the store," Kroger Mid-Atlantic Real Estate Manager Fenton Childers said. "The community can expect to see progress on the store in the coming weeks."
Mattis seemed less confident.
"Sure, it's an ongoing problem for us. We really don't know the status of it," Mattis said. "I think it's fairly obvious the building is an eyesore."
One women who lives in Colonial Heights called the area "disgusting."
"When you come off the ramp coming into Colonial Heights and that is what you see," neighbor Bonnie Vineyard bemoaned. "It's been like this for so long. Something should have been done by now. Now it's just got an orange fence around it and the roof is falling off."
So what caused the Kroger delay? A legal issue, then a traffic issue.
Following the initial 2013 announcement, neighbors who lived near the future Kroger sued the city. Kroger was able to close on the sale of the property, once lawsuit was resolved, in November 2015. But during that time, VDOT began a roundabout project on Temple Avenue. That led to additional delays.
Where are we now?
A Kroger spokesperson said they expected to receive final approvals on the site from Colonial Heights in the coming four to six weeks. Once received, Kroger can begin to prepare the land for the new store.
"The first steps in the process to build the new store will be to tear down the existing building and clear the site for new construction," a company spokesperson said.
In November 2015, the City of Colonial Heights offered this update:
In early 2013, Kroger Mid‐Atlantic and the City Council executed a Development Agreement approving a plan for acquisition of the former courthouse site and the construction of one of Kroger’s largest, full‐service stores. The Colonial Heights Kroger will be approximately 95,000 square feet and will include, but not be limited to, a pharmacy, organics, natural foods, bakery/deli, fuel center, and other services.
As part of the Development Agreement, Kroger is committed to a minimum local investment of $8,000,000 in the construction of the new store and acquisition of new personal property. Kroger will also create at least two hundred (200) new jobs in Colonial Heights, including forty (40) full-time equivalent positions.
The new store will be Kroger’s 19th in the region following the Iron Bridge Marketplace store opening in Chesterfield County.