Infill is the future
I was delighted to read the article on ProgessLex.org by architect Graham Pohl, reflecting on his experience with the new Kroger to be built on Euclid. While I frequently shop there, it is in sad shape. I have no interest in seeing a "superstore" but I'm all in for a much-expanded grocery.
What I learned reading Pohl's article was that Kroger has no experience with designing infill stores. Why should they? They've never needed to build anything more interesting than a big box at a suburban strip mall. As we know, infill is the future of Lexington, as it is across our nation. With the welcome moratorium on the growth of our urban service boundary, developers must pay more attention to properties that have been underused and/or neglected during a now bygone era when building from scratch was an easier option. Now that it is not, new designs must be created in dense and challenging older settings which require thinking outside the box (pun intended).
I think the design of the new Euclid store is exciting. I hope the CEOs have a positive experience and the store is hugely successful. If so, they might focus more on improving or adding new stores, and perhaps helping solve some food desert problems in the process.
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Smarten up design
I am writing a follow-up to the Aug. 8, "Ky. Voices: Euclid League says Lexington council should reject zone change for oversized Kroger." If you carefully listen to their and other voices in town, residents are asking for a brand new and well- thought-out design for the Kroger on Euclid.
If you look at Kroger's proposed design, it is a store which is built right to the property line with no regard for neighboring residential properties. The rooftop parking ramp will dump traffic onto SouthAshland.
Kroger is the second largest grocery chain in the U.S., where No. 1 is Walmart. Kroger should certainly have enough money to hire someone to come up with a smarter design which will impact the neighborhood positively and not require an extreme zoning change which matches that of the Fayette Mall.
Margaret A. Readdy
Reject zone change
The city council should deny Kroger's request to expand its Euclid Avenue store until it comes back with a proposal that safeguards the surrounding area.
Let Kroger add the extra 12,000 square feet it is entitled to under its B1 zoning. The company's recent acquisition of adjacent properties on Marquis would allow an expansion enabling the grocer to provide more and greater variety of grocery items, a less crowded layout, additional checkout stations, and a bit more parking — amenities lacking at this location. These basic improvements would indeed provide Kroger's clients with the enhanced shopping experience the retailer assures us we deserve and would meet little if any local opposition.
However, if the 50,000 square foot limit is a deal-breaker, there's one other way for the store to grow to the 70,000 square foot size being requested — grant the B6P rezoning, but deny all variance requests. While this would postpone any immediate expansion, it would set the precedent for upzoning the remaining 1.5 acres on Euclid and South Ashland (it would be foolish to think that Kroger does not intend to buy these remaining properties). Maintaining the 35 percent lot coverage limit imposed on B6P properties would protect the community from the otherwise inevitable development of a 100,000 square foot Kroger Marketplace in the future.
Given the negative impact that these megastores have on local shops and restaurants, I don't think that assurance is too much to ask.
No to Fort Kroger
As a Lexington native and University of Kentucky senior, I am familiar with where Kroger intends to expand and agree the area cannot sustain a grocery of this size and the traffic it will bring. Already the campus and Chevy Chase areas have problems. Can you really envision putting an extra 6,000 cars a day through the High Street/Euclid/Fontaine nightmare?
Please do not allow Kroger to do this to our community. We are on the verge of creating a hub of sustainability in Lexington and don't need enormous corporations taking the lead. We need small groceries to open; encourage mom and pop stores throughout downtown to fill the need for grocery items, and let's spend our money in the community and grow prosperity locally.
From North Upper, I have to drive to the suburbs to grocery shop. Fort Kroger does not take the place of a downtown market that we have needed for decades. Consider better solutions; let's innovate and encourage community-based ideas. Let's improve our downtown region and make it the envy of the nation, not turn it into a Fayette Mall-style traffic extravaganza.
The Urban County Council should vote no to Fort Kroger.
If Lexington truly wants to embrace the preservationists' build-up-not-out mantra, there is no better next step than Kroger's proposal for an expanded Euclid Avenue store.
As more people move downtown and into the surrounding neighborhoods, a substantial nearby grocery store will be increasingly important. The Euclid Kroger is the only current supermarket that fits the bill.
Kroger's proposal to bring its storefront forward to the sidewalk is more in keeping with the aesthetics of Chevy Chase, than is its current suburban-style store. The plan also eliminates the unsightly, street-front parking lot.
We have a wonderful, walkable neighborhood, and a redeveloped Kroger store will be more conducive to those of us who often walk or bike to the grocery.
Yet the proposed design could still be better.
I urge my neighbors to embrace this infill as an important step in increasing Lexington's urban density while maintaining our existing livability.
I urge Kroger to continue improving the proposed design.
The recent suggestions by architect Graham Pohl would be a needed improvement.
There are also fine examples of grocery and pharmacy chains that have built new buildings with appropriate, street-front facades in urban neighborhoods in nearby cities like Louisville and Nashville, all of which are better than Kroger's proposed, fortress-like facade.
With a better design and careful consideration of the neighborhood, I'm confident the new store can be an asset to the area.
A better fit
While I respect Amy Clark's passion for the issues raised in her commentary, "Council should deny Euclid Kroger zone change," I do not share her opinions.
I do not think the store will be too big. While it is substantially larger, it will fit more tastefully and appropriately into the neighborhood than the current store. This is in part because of Kroger's willingness to invest in rooftop parking which will eliminate most of the unsightly surface parking.
I also do not share Clark's doubts about traffic conditions. Kroger has professional consultants assessing this issue and the city has traffic engineers looking at it. Consider this: If traffic becomes a problem, shoppers will go elsewhere. Kroger can't afford to get this wrong, and they haven't gotten it wrong.
Clark also oversimplified my input into the process. I did work as a volunteer with Kroger on its designs for the Euclid Avenue and Marquis Avenue facades, but the designs are theirs. Much of my work with Kroger involved describing the culture and physical context into which the building is to be inserted, discussing the feedback from the neighborhood and helping them to incorporate all of that information into their thinking. They made major changes to the store plan, not just to the facades, in response to these discussions. This is a very significant distinction, because they were not just "putting lipstick on a pig." They were really working it over, and the results will speak for themselves.