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Kroger opening new store

March 22nd, 2017

300 new jobs slated for Tonkel, Dupont location

By Sherry Slater | The Journal Gazette

Kroger will invest $26 million and create about 300 full- and part-time jobs when it opens a new store at the northwest corner of Dupont and Tonkel roads, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Eric Halvorson described the new grocery as a “significant investment” although the 100,000-square-foot store will be slightly smaller than Kroger marketplace stores, which are about 125,000 square feet.

The Cincinnati-based retailer is developing the construction schedule, so no opening date has been projected, Halvorson said.

New home construction drove the decision, the Indianapolis-based spokesman added.

“The growth in that part of Fort Wayne is likely to produce a greater demand for Kroger service and value,” Halvorson said. “We want to be ready for it.”

The location, which is east of Parkview Regional Medical Center, was mentioned by Kroger officials in 2009, when they unveiled plans to invest $75 million in the Fort Wayne market over the coming three to five years.

It’s unclear why a store hasn’t been built there sooner.

That previous plan included building three new stores, significantly expanding two stores, remodeling three and closing three.

One year later, company officials revised the investment upward to $100 million over five years. Over the past several years, stores have been remodeled at Chestnut Plaza, 6130 E. State Blvd. and 218 E. Pettit Ave., among other locations. 

The Kroger store at 6002 St. Joe Center Road also was remodeled and expanded from about 65,000 square feet to 83,000 square feet at a cost of about $9 million, a company official said previously.

Marketplace stores were built in Village at Coventry and Dupont Village. A third Kroger Marketplace will open next month on St. Joe Center Road.

Local shoppers have embraced the retailer, which acquired rival Scott’s Food & Pharmacy stores in 2007 for an undisclosed price.

Kroger chose Fort Wayne as the first location to launch its marketplace format in Indiana, which turned out to be a good bet.

When the Dupont Road marketplace store debuted in 2011, it quickly made its mark. Within 10 days of opening, the store ranked No. 1 for Kroger stores nationally in sushi sales. Kroger operated about 2,500 stores in about 30 states at that time.

Officials said they wouldn’t have predicted Fort Wayne would have such a craving for raw fish and rice.

That specific store is also a current leader in the retailer’s ClickList program. The location employs about five times the program’s typical number at similar stores in other cities. That’s 47 workers in the north-side store dedicated just to the ClickList program.