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Thursday, December 27, 2007

I've got your Downtown grocery right here

With the growing residential population Downtown and the new activity being seen on a daily basis...the talks of a full-scale grocery store for Downtown have heated up again. I think it is BS when people say the demographics aren't right, or that a location isn't there that meets their needs. I won't bore you with demographic talk, but I will dive into the location part of the discussion.

I've got a couple locations that I think would be great for a nice full-scale grocery Downtown. The first one is 7th & Vine. This is about as close to the center of the population (for the center city) as you can get. There are currently two surface lots there and is located 2 blocks from Fountain Square and 1 block from the proposed streetcar line.

Sunflower Market a natural foods grocery in Columbus - highstreetart.blogspot.com

My second option would be at Tower Place Mall along 4th Street. The street-level would have to be completely reworked to have direct access, but this could prove to be the rejuvenation that Tower Place needs. This is just 1 block from Fountain Square and about 1.5 blocks from the proposed streetcar line.

Finally there is always the massive surface lots near St. Xavier Church at 7th/8th & Sycamore. This location is in a rapidly growing residential area, and offers lots of readily available land just waiting to be built on. This location though is slightly further away from being central, but is smack dab on the streetcar line.

24 comments:

Dan said...

What about NE or SE Corner Walnut & Court? On the Street car line and closer to Over the Rhine and potential development in Broadway Commons. It does put it a little far from places like West 4th areas. But would/could be accessible to the Banks via streetcar. I think putting a grocery on 4th is too far for Over the Rhine and basically potentially catering to CBD and Banks. Just a thought . . .

UncleRando said...

^While the Kroger in OTR sucks it is at least something...plus there is Findlay Market in OTR as well. I'm thinking that it is the residential base within the CBD that has largely been ignored, but definitely valid points.

The Nati Life said...

Had never considered the 7th & Vine location, but it makes perfect sense!

It is convenient enough to FS, 4th Street, and if the area around Shillito and up to Court St. is to be as thriving as everyone wants, the grocery should be convenient to those areas as well.

Anonymous said...

Apparently there really is a grocery store moving right next to the Kroger building(ironic isn't it) it will be part of that meat selling place. Secondly, there needs to be something built on that gigantic lot on 7/8th & Sycamore. There going to be building a high-rise condo unit above one of those parking garages too.

valereee said...

There's so much at Findlay that I can really do 90% of the rest of my shopping at a drug store.

Radarman said...

What about the promise from the new owners of Tower Place that they would recruit a grocer for the old Closson's space at 4th and Race? They also want to get rid of the garage ramp on 4th Street. If they do both of those highly desirable deeds, they should be given management of the city.

And we can forget Kroger. They have no model for a city store. We should be talking to Tesco.

5chw4r7z said...

I think downtown is still a ways away from being able to support it, but the sooner the better as far as I'm concerned.
One argument I wonder about thought, they keep talking about where are the shoppers going to park?
This is downtown, we'll walk there. And this isn't the burbs, we don't need to buy a weeks worth of food and carry it home.
We'll probably walk there and buy a night or two of fresh food to eat, and then come back again. Since we don't have 2000 sf kitchens we can only store a couple days worth of staples anyhow.
The grocer on Court they said is only going to be open until 5pm which won't help the majority of people downtown. I've been to Findly a couple times, but it doesn't seem like a viable alternative to a grocery to me. If it was why is it struggling?

UncleRando said...

Great points from everyone so far, but I must say that if the Tower Place owners do deliver on something like that radarman...then they do indeed deserve a key to the city or something.

VisuaLingual said...

This is downtown, we'll walk there. And this isn't the burbs, we don't need to buy a weeks worth of food and carry it home.

This is why Findlay is a great base for this kind of shopping. Combine that with the area drugstores and various small delis and grocers, and you're absolutely covered. If you're not trying to replicate suburban amenities or shopping habits, why not make use of, and support, the shopping choices that are already within walking distance? I, for one, don't feel the need for a large supermarket. In fact, I prefer my current options to whatever a supermarker may offer.

The Nati Life said...

5cw4r7z, shut up, you're making too much sense!!!

Vis, you're correct, Findlay is the perfect place, but is geographically inconvenient for all the residents living on say, Fourth St. (1) if they're going to get in their car to shop, they may as well drive a few extra minutes to Meijer in Oakley and pick up cleaning supplies/toiletries/etc. too. (2) If we had streetcars, we wouldn't need to drive to Findlay and shop, take a 15 min. streetcar ride, shop, 15 min. ride back, all without a car!

igon said...

Randy,

7th and Vine is such a great lot in a great location. Doesn't Towne it? Hope its condos eventually. For now, the site is way to small for grocery, even if it was multi-story, you'd still need structured underground parking which only works if there's a condo or offices on top...

I'm all for the streetcar, but carrying groceries, say more than 2bags on them would be a miserable experience.

What great marketing that would be...Take the elevator to the grocery store? When you're in the ATL, I'll show you how that works at Plaza Midtown.

I'm still concerned however with the Floor to surface area and loading docks required at this location.

I like the St. X lot and also think that lot across from 4th and Plum would be good, next to the Poison Room. That' a huge lot.

I disagree with 5schartz too..while it isnt the suburbs, it's also not New York. Having lived in medium sized downtowns such as Madison, WI, Uptown Charlotte, and Midtown Atlanta where a number of urban grocery stores exist (2 in Charlotte, 1 in Madison, and at least 3 in Midtown right now), most people are still going to drive to the grocery store, unless they are within immediate proximity perhaps 3 - 4 blocks, so parking will be a huge concern to any grocer.

My opinion based upon my experience.

Anonymous said...

Cincy, I feel your pain. We have a Sunflower Mkt in Indy, with talk of one being built downtown. Having shopped at Sunflower, I think they carry an odd assortment and I have not been swayed to become a regular. But then, we have a 30-yr health food store and several fresh bakeries nearby.

We are also getting a Fresh Market with parking on top!! That's what they say. It's a small site.

It's a shame that Kroger is so big and corporate that they can't do better in their own backyard. They have the same limitations here. But our smaller, local grocer has offered a full-service grocery downtown for over 20 years. It was rough at first, but they are here to stay.

And I was in a multi-story Wal-mart in China. They had conveyor-belt type escalators which you rode up and down with your shopping cart. Way cool!

Watching from Indy.

igon said...

I had an epiphany on the way home from work.

What if the city booted Saks, or stopped subsidizing it, or rather, redirected the subsidy to a grocery store in that location. It would appear that that footprint and structure, not to mention location and visibility would be ideal and much more beneficial for the city. It actually looks more like a grocery store on the outside than a high end department store...

As OTR improves the Vine Street Kroger will serve that population just fine.

And there's great surface parking right across the street!!! We all know Eagle won't do anything with it for at least the next 20 years, so that should work well.

Jimmy_James said...

I'm not sure why there's such an obsession with parking. The real problem is finding a place that can accomodate multiple trucks being docked. Parking is for suburban grocery stores, and would still exist at these same suburban stores if anyone downtown occasionally needed enough food for a feast. For your average trip to the store, you wouldn't need to drive. As for moving heavy groceries without a car, this could be accomplished easily by the store selling canvas bags and those 2 wheeled grocery cart things. This would also provide a tremendous opportunity for free advertising, as they could slap a huge store logo on the bags and carts, which would show everyone just how many people live downtown and shop at store "X".

igon said...

I disagree. Sure in an urban planners wet dream there wouldn't be a need for parking but in most scenarios of business reality there is.

Sure its nice to talk about walking to the grocery store or taking the streetcar to Findlay Market to stock up on your daily dining needs but most people are busy and its really not great time management to spend 5 nights a week shopping for food. It works in NY because of the incredible density, lack of large chain grocery stores, the plethora of dining establishments, and extremely small kitchens and living spaces (even compared to what they will be building in downtown Cincinnati).

Even in Chicago, I challenge you to identify a grocery store (the scale of which we are talking about) with little or no parking.

If it doesnt work there, it wont work in Cincinnati...in my opinion. I would love for Kroger or Publix or Harris Teeter, or Whole Foods (not a chance) to prove me wrong.

As for the type of store you refer to in your post, it is my understanding the one exists on Main Street at Cancioolo's (sp) and another is opening up on Court. Perhaps 2 or 3 of those scattered around downtown would serve the population just fine.

Radarman, Kroger has a new 2 story Kroger near Midtown Atlanta that is rather small (for a Kroger) and has quite an "urban (steel beems, exposed duct work and all)" feel to it. I will have Randy take some pictures of it when he comes back to the ATL.

RHines said...

There WAS a Kroger in downtown Atlanta -- right across the street from the state Capitol.

It closed last year.

If you're talking about the Kroger store in south Buckhead on Peachtree Street, CincyNation has a jpg on its start page.

Rick Hines

RHines said...

Oh, the downtown Atlanta Kroger store closed in 2005. Here's a link:

http://www.atlantadowntown.com/NewsKrogerClosing.asp

Anonymous said...

For those like me who see the streetcar as a way to make shopping easier (quick trip to Findlay Market for example), it is time for a reality check. The proposal is dying in the finance committee due to the high capital cost with the mayor and council no longer pushing for it. Once again Cincinnati misses out on being a progressive city that promotes vibrant, urban life.

igon said...

rhines...Yes, I'm referring to the Kroger on Peachtree and I think 26th Street in S. Buckhead/N. Midtown...whichever way you prefer to look at it. I think officially it's Collier Hills or Peachtree Hills...

You're right, Downtown Atlanta does not have a store, but Midtown works well to identify the type of grocery store that provides parking in an urban environment when many of its patrons could easily walk...if they wanted to carry bags home and shop 5 days a week.

UncleRando said...

^^Anonymous, the mayor is still pushing this proposal and has gone on the record as saying this is his number 1 priority. The majority of city council is also still in favor of the proposal...it's something like 7/9 in favor and the other two are sort of on the fence.

Anonymous said...

Uncle Rando, City Council was in favor of the Banks, but look how long that took. The fact of the matter is that while many speak in favor of the streetcar proposal there is no will to provide funding for it. Until the finance committee makes real strides to work out the funding it is just another "would be nice" item. If people want this they are going to need to put more pressure on those who are trying to kill it with lack of funding.

Rhines said...

Igon, I'd lived in Atlanta for many years (until last year) but can't remember! I think the area is actually called Brookwood. That Kroger store is near the Amtrak train station.

And, you're right, the store does look urban. BUT, please note it is a few miles from downtown Atlanta

Ian said...

rhines...

My comment regarding the Kroger in Atlanta was in response to radarman who said that Kroger had no model for an urban store. I would suggest that the size, design and layout of the store in discussion is a statement suggesting that Kroger does have a model and perhaps even a protoype.

Danbob said...

I hope they don't put in a really huge grocery store. That probably means it would need a parking garage, which means it would not be as convenient and quick. The store itself would probably take a long time to navigate through.

I think a few mid-size stores throughout downtown would be good. Something like a Keller's in Clifton Gaslight. That store is modest in size and is centrally located for a lot of residents.

You're more inclined to pick up a hand basket and walk home with a couple bags of food than you are at a lot of other places.

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