Fair board, Kroger discuss land purchase

Grocery store chain interested in buying parking lot across street
Melissa Topey
Mar 5, 2014

 

Kroger is again in talks with the Sandusky County fair board to possibly purchase a portion of a parking lot across the street from the fairgrounds.

The large grocery chain has again approached the fair board to negotiate a possible purchase, said Harold Overmyer, Sandusky County Fair board president.

“We are looking at every option. No decision has been made,” Overmyer said. “We are trying to protect the fairgrounds so that it never disappears”

The location causing the uproar is a portion of the parking lot at North Street and Ohio 53, across from the Sandusky County fairgrounds.

The possible sale of the land first created controversy in November, when news of Kroger approaching the board became public. Residents expressed concern this was the first step in encroaching on the fairgrounds.

At that time, the talks never moved past an informal stage and the sale never happened.

But Kroger recently came back to the board.

The last time Overmyer talked to Kroger was two weeks ago. The grocer is slated to come up with plans and a contract to present to the board, but until then there are no definitive details to share, he said.

“Once we having something in black and white from Kroger we will have a meeting for input from the public” Overmyer said.

A deal with Kroger for the space would help bolster the fairgrounds, which requires a lot of upkeep, maintenance and repairs, Overmyer said.

“We are trying to secure its future” Overmyer said.

A sale could benefit the Fremont Speedway and strengthen the community, Overmyer said.

News of the development is disappointing to Fremont Speedway owner Rich Farmer.

The Fremont Speedway, approaching its 63rd year of racing, operates at the fairgrounds with three-year contracts. The current contract has them locked into a deal until 2017. After that, there’s no guarantee of what will happen, Farmer said.

“I was verbally told there was no deal. That it was a dead issue,” Farmer said. “I guess things come back to life”

Farmer said he knows no details other than negotiations are ongoing.

While he’s uncertain what this deal means to the Fremont Speedway, Farmer holds out hope for one thing.

“That it solidifies Fremont Speedway’s future” Farmer said.

Kroger is not looking to disrupt the fairgrounds or the Fremont Speedway, said Jackie Siekmann, Kroger spokeswoman.

“We recognize this is a historic piece of property, that is a big deal” Siekmann said. “We support 4-H and FFA. We will not interrupt the fair or the speedway”

She stressed the property they are looking at is a portion of a parking lot. Kroger would work with the fair board to purchase another piece of land for the fairgrounds to use, she said.

But the land at North Street and Ohio 53 is an ideal place for a Marketplace Kroger.

A Marketplace Kroger is larger than a typical Kroger store — about 125,000 square feet, compared to the 80,000 square feet of a normal Kroger.

It holds more general merchandise including apparel, jewelry, baby items and a small automotive section.

“Our studies show the Fremont area supports this type of store,” Siekmann said.

Comments

holysee

At least this is a location in the city limits you could walk or bike to without using a busy highway with no sidewalks.

bayshore

The fairgrounds at Fremont (Sandusky County) are on the north side of the city at the intersection of Rawson Ave and North St. It may be in the city limits but hardly a convenient place to reach on foot or bike. The track at the fairgrounds is the Fremont Speedway used throughout the summer racing season. During the fair, the parking lot is used by people attending the fair and as a campground for families who have livestock and exhibits. It's obvious someone from out of town has seen this wide open space very near WalMart with no knowledge of how much activity occurs at the fairgrounds all year long. The fair board needs to tell them to look elsewhere.

ladydye_5

I agree. Not sure this is the "right" spot. Most of the summer this lot is very busy and rather dusty/dirty. Why not where they are now, extended where the empty Ponderosa restaurant is?

ladydye_5

The prices in these types of stores are crazy. I do not see it make it in Fremont.

Commenter

Aren't there 2 Kroger's in Fremont now??

nosey rosey

Yes there are. My concern would be that if they build a store there, the next thing will be complaints from patrons about the noise and the smell from the fairgrounds and races. There is still plenty of land for sale north of 20 that they could build on without making the intersection at the fair grounds a mess.

luvschocolate

I'm sure the fair board members will think long and hard about this, but I have a number of concerns. The lot is frequently very full during the fair. I know of no other land immediately near the fairgrounds except at the bottom of a steep hill which would be totally unacceptable for families with strollers, elderly, exhibitors, etc. who are frequent visitors to the fair. The traffic in that area is already congested with the high school and the shopping area to the north. Another store there will just add to the problems. The fair board has done a good job over the years of keeping the fair on solid financial footing and selling off this piece of property is not necessary to keep the fair afloat.

Jmschmidt812

I would assume the annual fair would take a huge hit in attendance and revenue should they sell that property. I just don't understand why Kroger couldn't build somewhere else instead of that lot. People were told it wouldn't be sold and now it's obviously still an option. I say keep that property with the fairgrounds and tell them to find somewhere else to build.

Commenter

There is also not a lot of parking for that fairground besides that lot.

Commenter

They are running out of room on that side of town to develop North of 20 so that is probably why they want to look at that location.

Simple Enough II

Such a shame they don't just buy the KMart on state route 19. They want 1st crack at the folks coming off the bypass from westbound and from rawson Ave. I sure hope the fairboard thinks long & hard before making foolish move to give up this property.