Developer will buy Baby Kroger, combine it with nearby office building for mixed-use projectThe Baby Kroger located at 720 Commerce Drive in Decatur. Photo by Dean Hesse.
This story has been updated.
Decatur, GA — Decatur’s Baby Kroger on Commerce Drive, vacant since December, will be reborn as a mixed-use project, according to two developers who are working on the deal.
The current owner of the shuttered Kroger, Stein Investment Group, intends to sell the space to Pope and Land, a development company that bought the adjacent office buildings at 750 Commerce Drive. Pope and Land bought the office buildings in 2021. It previously housed offices for the Decatur and DeKalb housing authorities.
When the properties are combined, the site will be about 4.3 acres.
The property will include retail and multifamily, according to Pope and Land COO Dan Bara. He said the company is not sure whether it would demolish the buildings at 750 Commerce to make way for the project or whether the buildings could be incorporated into the project.
“We are exploring continuing with the office use and other alternative uses for the space, but demolishing the building is certainly an option we are considering,” he said.
The company and the city both want to see a grocery store in the space, but it will likely be a small grocer in the 15,000 to 17,000 square foot range.
While the possibility of adding more mixed-use to Decatur will cause some residents to groan when they hear about it, Bara said that the company has a track record in Decatur, including the Decatur Towncenter property at 150 E. Ponce de Leon Ave. and Decatur Plaza, located at 101 W. Ponce de Leon Ave.
“Pope and Land has a long history of development in Decatur on this corridor and the expanded Decatur market,” Bara said. “It certainly is our goal to find something that’s a benefit to the overall Decatur community because it’s treated our company so well over the decades, and it’s our goal to continue to participate in the Decatur market for decades to come, so we’ll be thoughtful on anything we do now to make sure it’s a good fit.”
There’s still the matter of the lease Kroger has for the Baby Kroger property. It’s unlikely that the property will be redeveloped for at least another year.
Jason Linscott, a principal with Stein Investment, said they’ve got a lease until early 2025. Bara said that Pope and Land hopes to start turning dirt at the site in the fourth quarter of 2024 or the first quarter of 2025.
“Given the overall market, that’s a little bit aggressive,” Bara said. “That’s what our target is.”
The sale of the Baby Kroger property hasn’t closed yet, Bara said.
Linscott said the Pope and Land property currently wraps around the Baby Kroger store.
Linscott said while he has talked with the city about temporary uses for the property until the development starts, Bara said, there’s “unlikely to be an alternative use in the meantime.”
Decatur City Commissioner George Dusenbury has pushed hard for a master plan for Decatur’s downtown and said he’s encouraged by the redevelopment news.
“I’m excited that we’re seeing some movement on that space,” he said. “It was identified in the downtown master plan as one of the catalyst sites. Pope and Land has a good history of working in Decatur and doing good things, and I’m hopeful as part of any redevelopment we’ll see a grocery store. I know that is a priority for the city.”
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