BROWNSBURG--- Grocery chain Kroger has decided not to open a store at the closed Brownsburg Marsh location on East Main street, angering residents and town council members.
Kroger announced in July 2017 it would renovate and reopen seven former Marsh stores , including the one at 843 E. Main Street in Brownsburg.
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But RTV6 has learned those plans have changed significantly.
“After a significant amount of analysis, we concluded that, rather than renovating the Brownsburg Marsh store, the best approach, the plan that made the most business sense, would be to invest in remodeling our existing store in Brownsburg,” said Eric Halvorson, manager of corporate affairs and media spokesman for Kroger. “In the time since the purchase of the Marsh properties, Kroger unveiled what’s called the "Restock Kroger" plan. It represents a new approach to store development.”
Brownsburg town council member Brian Jessen said he found out about the change when residents saw a new leasing sign going up on the old Marsh.
"There was a lot of good communication with Kroger as this got started," said Jessen. "But then it kind of fell apart as we were the last ones that seemed to know they changed their decision as to what they want to do with the store. I wish they would have picked up the phone and talked to us more."
Jessen said they had been in talks with Kroger since Marsh filed for bankruptcy.
"I think to say we are disappointed is an understatement at this point," said Jessen. "There was no communication with the town of Brownsburg that the decision had been made not to move forward with this location."
Halvorsen explained the new plan puts an emphasis on technology and internal upgrades within stores.
“That means we are re-prioritizing development of new stores and devoting new thought to remodeling existing stores,” said Halvorsen. “As a result, later this year, we will remodel our Kroger on Green Street in Brownsburg. We plan a variety of additions.”
Since Marsh closed on the south side of town, Brownsburg residents have complained about the lack of grocery options in town as well as how crowded the Green Street Kroger is.
"There is a need for a grocery store on this side of town," said Jessen. "Right now with the construction, getting through Brownsburg is not really that easy. There’s not a lot of parking options at the current Kroger to accommodate the level and volume of grocery shopping in town."
“Customers will see new natural foods and additional space in the dairy section,” said Halvorsen. “We will offer new meal options at the store’s deli and other changes that will enhance the convenience for shoppers who frequent the store. That and more will follow an investment of $1.9 million.”
Five former Marsh stores have become Kroger stores, said Halvorsen, and one more opens next week in Muncie.
“The renovation of these Marsh stores provided a lesson in how valuable Kroger is to the communities it serves,” said Halvorsen. “Since last summer, I have been unable to go anywhere without someone asking about when a certain store would open. We appreciate the interest in our stores. I wish we could be everywhere Kroger customers want us to be.”
Kroger real estate specialists are working on options for the remaining buildings in last summer's purchase.
“We are eager to find productive new uses for the properties whenever possible,” said Halvorsen.
Brownsburg town council member Brian Jessen said he is concerned and is looking for options for the town, including a new grocery store along Ronald Reagan Parkway.
"We haven't given up on it," said Jessen. "We will fill this need."
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