Kroger causing controversy

Residents not happy about store’s possible takeover of fairgrounds.
Melissa Topey
Nov 8, 2013

 

The Fremont Kroger store is looking to move from its current location at Potter Village, and speculation on a new location is creating concern among residents.

Kroger spokeswoman Beth Wilkin confirmed the company has been looking, for years, at several sites to improve the shopping experience for customers, but a final decision hasn’t been made.

One possible location causing uproar: the parking lot at North Street and Ohio 53, across from the Sandusky County Fairgrounds. The Sandusky County Ag Society owns the lot, and it needs no approval from Sandusky County commissioners if it wants to sell the land.

Tiffany Lewis, whose husband started a Facebook page called “Protect Our Fairgrounds,” is wondering if the possible sale would leave fairgoers without a fairgrounds. She fears the move to purchase the parking lot would only be the first step in encroaching on the fairgrounds.

The buildings at the fairgrounds are more than 100 years old, and there are also markers on the property to recognize people who have donated to the fair association, she said.

“The fairgrounds is history. It started in the 1850s,” Lewis said. “Big corporation is looking to come in. It is all about money.”

Kroger officials likely wouldn’t want the fairgrounds or the dusty dirt track at the Fremont Speedway near any new store, Lewis said.

The Fremont Speedway, coming up on its 63rd year of racing, operates at the fairgrounds under three-year contracts, said Rich Farmer, owner of the Fremont Speedway. A constant stipulation in the contract says negotiations on any new agreement should begin before the existing contract ends. The new three-year contract allows Farmer to continue operating through 2017.

“What happens four years from now?” said Farmer, who is concerned not just about the fate of the speedway, but the future of the fairgrounds, too.

If the parking lot is closed, it would force visitors to use an unlighted area that is farther away and is prone to flooding. Everyone wants Kroger to continue investing in Fremont, Farmer said. “We just don’t agree with the location,” he said. The Kroger store is at Potter Village, 1316 Oak Harbor Road.

Next to it is a shuttered Ponderosa Steakhouse and an unused field. Wilkin said nothing has been confirmed, and she does not know if the fairgrounds is on the list of possible new locations. When asked if Kroger could expand at the existing site at Potter Village, she didn’t rule out the possibility. “This is in the early stages,” Wilkin said. “It is like looking for a car in the papers. If we find one we like, then we will go to the dealership.” The company’s leaders are aware of residents’ concerns, she said.

Sandusky County Fair board president Harold Overmyer told the Register that Kroger officials have approached the fair board a few times, starting a few years ago. The conversations were entirely informal, he said, and the fair board is not going to sell the parking lot.

“At this point, it’s over and nothing is going to happen,” Overmyer said, adding that there’s been no further contact with Kroger.

Still, he doesn’t know what could happen in the long-term.

“I can’t answer that,” he said. “I can’t see into the future.”

Comments

grandmasgirl

Was talking to some people from Fremont the other day. They think it is great that the Sandusky Kroger is remodeling, but had heard the rumor that both locations in Fremont were to close and relocate to the fairgrounds site. None were happy about it. They wanted the east end location to stay so that they didn't have to drive further.

Señor Clown

I was always a little surprised that Kroger has operated two separate stores, two miles apart from one another, particularly while competing with Walmart and formerly K-Mart grocery supercenters. If their intent is to relocate either store, or consolidate both, there are certainly plenty of options. I don't believe that the fairground's parking lot would be their final choice for site consideration, and it seems more likely that they are simply weighing all possible options rather than "Big corporation is looking to come in."

edit re: Grandmasgirl - I can see why everyone east of the river would prefer to keep the 5th Street location open, rather than run to Potter Village or out 53 north. Wonder if anyone will ever make use of the vacant grocery store next to Rural King?

ladydye_5

Noone makes use of vacant stores. They would rather make everyone move, tear down, and build new. There are SO MANY empty stores in Fremont, yet they keep building new ones. Everyone complains that there is nothing here, or nothing there. But continue to support building everything out by Walmart. Why? Traffic is getting to be quite the hassle, especially when the holidays come. I avoid the whole area.

The Smart One

Krogers in sandusky is also moving. They are trying to build a new huge building in the Perkins plaza. Many other store there have to move. Jamie's carpet shop, Dollar General, Chicago Hair, The internet casino, and Drug Mart. You can go there now and see the survey marks in the parking lot and open field