Just one day before a public hearing on Kroger's plans for replacing its store on Euclid Avenue in Lexington, the grocery chain announced changes that the company said it hoped would make the project more palatable to some neighbors.
Chief among them is that the new store would be 10,000 square feet smaller than originally planned, Kroger spokesman Tim McGurk said in an email Monday afternoon. That will allow a larger easement along Marquis Avenue, he said.
"We have been listening closely to a variety of neighborhood groups in an attempt to meet many of their requests for the store design," he said. "In response to these requests we have made several significant changes to the plan."
Kroger's plan for a larger store than the one currently on the site requires a zone change, which has been approved by the Planning Commission. The request for the change to a planned shopping center zone goes before the Urban County Council on Tuesday.
A neighborhood organization called Euclid League has set up a website and an online petition opposing the zone change. It has also distributed "NO to Fort Kroger" yard signs.
Some residents of the area have said they think the company's plans for a store that is more than twice as large as the current grocery will create traffic problems. They also have complained about the building's orientation, which has the back of the store facing Marquis Avenue.
The new plan calls for an 86,472-square-foot store, with 22,134 square feet of storage space in the basement and 64,338 square feet of retail space on the main level.
With those changes, about 2 feet will be added to the easement along Marquis Avenue, providing 16 feet of sidewalk and landscaping from the curb to the wall of the new building, McGurk said.
The change also adds almost eight feet to the easement between Kroger's loading dock and adjacent residences on Marquis Avenue. That, McGurk said, was intended to help with the noise from idling delivery trucks.
The new plans also call for an additional entrance on Marquis Avenue, near Euclid Avenue.
"This will be convenient for our pedestrian traffic, especially those walking from the University of Kentucky," McGurk said.
The store's two main entrances will face Ashland Avenue, and there will be a side entrance on Euclid Avenue. The new store will have rooftop parking in addition to a surface lot.
McGurk said the back of the store, which Marquis Avenue residents will be facing, will not be a blank brick wall. He said there would be architectural elements and windows, and possibly public art. He said Kroger would welcome input from neighborhood organizations about the art.
Lexington architect Graham Pohl volunteered to help Kroger adjust the design to make it more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, and more compatible with the neighborhood.
"He's brought great value to the design and the planning process," McGurk said.
Several area residents said Monday night that they were glad Kroger had made an attempt to respond to their concerns, but they still are unhappy with the scope of the project.
"It's better than what their original plan was," said Linda Kelly, who lives next to the Kroger property, at 424 Marquis Avenue.
But she said Kroger's three-acre plot was too small for the store the company wants to build.
"It's more like putting 15 pounds of flour in a 5-pound sack," she said. "This isn't a strip mall or Nicholasville Road or Richmond Road. It's Chevy Chase. Instead of trying to fit in with the neighborhood, they're trying to take it over."
She said the house where she grew up in will have "a front-row seat to the trash compactor and the diesel fumes. ... Can you imagine trying to have a barbecue?"
Lance Featherston, who also lives nearby and is disabled, said he walks to the store two or three times a day to buy his meals. He said he didn't know what he would do while the store is closed during construction.
"I love our little Kroger store just the size it is," he said. "Stop the bulldozers."
McGurk said the $19 million project had been designed to improve the shopping experience, and while there has been opposition, he said the vast majority of customers have offered positive feedback.
The new store will have more checkout lanes and an increased variety of fresh food, including an expanded produce department, more types of meat and seafood, a much bigger deli and a gourmet bakery.
The store also will be the first Kroger in the Lexington area to have a walk-in beer cave, McGurk said.
IF YOU GO
Public hearing on Kroger zone-change request
When: 5 p.m. Aug. 13
Where: Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council chambers, 200 E. Main St.