Kroger Update 10/16–“not ONE DIME…!”

From Thomas Porter, who has been pursuing Kroger and Cherokee Plaza owners to upgrade the sidewalks and streetscape along Peachtree Road per Overlay standards:

Through Kroger representatives, the City has just been informed that the “Ownership” of Cherokee Plaza (Hines et al) has no interest in providing improved streetscape or safety measures along Peachtree despite our City’s offering to invest. They are not interested in putting “one dime” towards those things.

Kroger Update, Oct. 8

Thomas Porter, AIA, who is leading the effort by BPCA (click on “Kroger” in sidebar to get full story) to get Kroger to comply with building permit requirements as well as encouraging them to improve their Peachtree streetscape to Overlay standards, recently received the following letter from Marie Garrett, City Manager for Brookhaven:

Good morning Mr. Porter. Glad to hear from you. I was thinking about you over the weekend and wanted to reach to you for an update. A meeting was held recently between Kroger, the county staff, kroger’s atty, our city attorney and myself with Susan Canon. In this meeting, we reviewed all of the conditions that were assigned to the county’s ZBA approval. It was found that Kroger is in compliance with them. Your greatest concern regarding the ingress/egress has been resolved and the island that would have blocked the entry and could have created stacking onto Peachtree is now removed and by this design, traffic will not be impeded. Thank you for working so hard to get that point across to Kroger and the county. As you know, once we learned of it, we contacted the county and had a hold placed on the C.O.

Currently, we are in discussions on the landscape and trees for the parking field. I will have to get back to you on that matter. Basically, we are discussing the acceptable type of trees to be planted. The number of trees that were conditioned by the county’s ZBA are now being respected and will be provided.

 

The sidewalk and streetscape are being discussed and negotiated at this time. The city would like some introduction of the overlay standards along Peachtree. Unfortunately, Kroger is not required to do this as per the ZBA approvals. However, we are working in good faith to try and bring some of the overlay elements along this frontage. Nothing has been decided at this time but I will keep you advised.

 

Thank you and I hope to get back to you soon with an update.

 

 

Marie L. Garrett

City Manager

City of Brookhaven, GA

 

Kroger Fails to Comply with Brookhaven Standards

Beginning in early 2012, the Kroger Company fought hard to avoid zoning compliance for its expansion in Cherokee Plaza, and, was inexplicably granted 15 variances by the DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals in June 2012.  At that time, Kroger pledged to continue to work with the community to resolve the important outstanding issues relating to achieving compliance with the Brookhaven Overlay streetscape improvement standards.

Just last month, about a month before the planned opening of the expansion of Kroger on August 1, 2013, Kroger representatives finally sat down to let a group of concerned neighbors know that they were not doing anything further to satisfy community concerns.  These neighbors also learned that Kroger was not in fact even upholding the requirements imposed by their variances.  After months of requests, it was the first time Kroger shared their approved plan.   Kroger has been difficult to reach and unresponsive to numerous requests to address long standing concerns.  It is now clear that Kroger will not follow through on previous promises made to work towards improving the Peachtree Road frontage

At stake are three main issues with this property for Brookhaven:

  • Failure to Address Vehicular Safety Concerns: A new landscaped island that they propose at the main entrance off Peachtree Road will back traffic onto Peachtree Road with only two vehicles in the shallow entrance (see sketch). This is truly a PUBLIC LIFE/SAFETY  ISSUE whose impact at best will be to further snarl traffic, or worse, to trap a southbound car turning left in the path of northbound traffic.

    Kroger Entrance Conflict

    Kroger Entrance Conflict

  • Failure to Comply with Zoning Approvals for Site Landscaping: Kroger plans to install trees that are less than half the size of those required by their variances, and, 6 fewer trees than the minimum required.
  • Failure to comply with Overlay Streetscape Standards & Pedestrian Safety: Kroger refuses to widen the Peachtree sidewalk and install landscaping as all other developers in the Overlay zoning area have been required to do. This is far more than an aesthetic issue on Peachtree Road; it is a public safety issue in an area that is already dangerous for pedestrians and auto traffic. Invariably, cars exiting Cherokee Plaza block the sidewalk & force pedestrians to walk in the street.

Further discussions with Kroger after our meeting have been dragged-out and their promises of timely responses have been broken. Kroger is scheduled to begin the site work on August 1st.

Simply put, regard for traffic and public safety should be utmost in the minds of anyone who does business in Brookhaven. The ruling of the DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals exemplifies at least one of the reasons why Brookhaven is now a city. Currently DeKalb County retains authority over the Kroger permits and inspections. The City of Brookhaven is not powerless though.

What can you do as a resident and a Kroger shopper?

  1. Contact Kroger – Tell Kroger that you’re bothered by their failure either by phone, email  or stopping by to see Bobby Smith (Store Manager) at 404-240-0808 (robert.smith@stores.kroger.com).  You might also contact Eyvonne Johnson, Assistant Real Estate Manager at Kroger (eyvonne.johnson@kroger.com) 770-496-7583.

Send a clear message to Kroger that your patronage is at stake and they need to support this community and do what is right.  If they don’t, then shop there a little less or not at all.

  1.  Contact the City of Brookhaven – Let you City Council representatives know that you’re bothered by this and wish they could do whatever they can to help.
  2. Contact Cherokee Plaza –   call Lori Walker, Cherokee Plaza Property Manager for Weingarten Real Estate (LWalker@Weingarten.com) 770- 618-1086, and insist that their property meet Overlay standards.

 

If we think as a community, expend a tiny bit of effort, we can send a clear message to all the merchants that want our dollars that they must respect and support the community too. Time is of the essence as we understand the site work will begin about August 1

Thank You.

Kroger: Letter to the Store Manager

Kathy Forbes of the BPCA recently wrote a letter to our local Kroger’s store manager, Bobby Smith, at his request, summarizing our position regarding Kroger’s resistance to installing an Overlay compliant streetscape as part of their $8 million dollar renovation.  Bobby asked for the letter to present to his corporate superiors.

Bobby is a friendly guy and wants his store to be a good Brookhaven citizen.  He also wants to keep his customers happy.  Please use your next visit to Kroger as an opportunity to shake Bobby’s hand, say hi, and let him know how important the Overlay vision is to a better Brookhaven.  In particular, encourage him to get his company to install a wider sidewalk along Peachtree as well as Overlay-compliant landscaping. It’s an inexpensive step to making Brookhaven more walk-friendly and street-friendly.

Click on the link to read the letter:

Kroger ltr_Bobby Smith

Kroger Variances Approved

The DeKalb County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved Kroger’s variance requests on June 13, thereby clearing the way for Kroger to build an $8 million dollar addition to their Cherokee Plaza store.

The BPCA argued that Kroger or Weingarten (Cherokee Plaza owner/manager) should install an Overlay-compliant sidewalk and streetscape along Peachtree as part of their expansion.  Unfortunately, DeKalb County Planning Department termed the expansion a “renovation of existing building” and did not require full site compliance.  Thus, while the ZBA was sympathetic to BPCA’s goals, it decided it did not have the authority to require Kroger to install that which the Planning Dept. was not requiring.

Kroger has agreed to provide a clear and safe pedestrian path from Peachtree through the parking lot, as well as improve pedestrian access from Colonial.  In addition, they will plant 40 trees in the parking lot.

After the ZBA hearing, Kroger representatives told BPCA privately that they would consider ways to improve the pedestrian experience along Peachtree.  They said they would get back to us wit specifics in 2 weeks.

Kroger Meeting Report, 3/6/12

Representatives from several area neighborhood groups and the Brookhaven Peachtree Community Alliance  (BPCA) met with Weingarten  yesterday, and the outcome of the meeting was disappointing.  Our primary objective for Cherokee Plaza is to get landscaping / street frontage improvements (i.e. wider, safer sidewalks).  The Kroger expansion is a lesser concern.

We believe that the extent and amount of investment of  the Kroger expansion should require Overlay  Ordinance compliance on the landscaping / streetscape issues.   In separate meetings with Weingarten and Kroger, both  have said that these improvements are either not their responsibility or there is no money for such improvements.

If DeKalb Co requires such improvements, they can figure out who is responsible and somehow divide the financial responsibility.

The only negative outcome for  Overlay compliance would be that Kroger and Weingarten would  spend more money  now, a relatively small investment considering the cost of the Kroger expansion and the value to Weingarten. However, the negative outcome for Brookhaven will be felt for  probably 30 years  (the Kroger lease term)  if these improvements are not required  with this improvement.

Beyond this specific situation, the message that we consistently and unequivocally send to property owners and developers is that  Overlay  compliance and achieving the vision of the LCI study is  a non-negotiable commitment of the community and DeKalb County government.

Cherokee Plaza is  the oldest development in Brookhaven with a long history of providing commercial services to area residents. However, it is a relic of an age of strip commercial development that the Brookhaven LCI study recommendations and the Overlay has purposely sought to transform to a better alternative for the community’s future.  Situated in the heart of Brookhaven and  being the first commercial property to encounter driving north on Peachtree from Atlanta’s Buckhead, a new  Overlay compliant streetscape will not only greatly enhance our community, it will serve as a model for future development along the Peachtree corridor and be a symbol of Brookhaven’s and DeKalb County’s future.

 

Kroger Update 2/24/12

BPCA met with representatives of Kroger on Feb. 13th to discuss its recommendations for improvements in the elevations to break up the long and uniform appearance, provision of pedestrian connections between Peachtree and Colonial and the shopping center stores, and the introduction of landscaping in the parking lot, and the creation of a pedestrian street scape for Peachtree Road frontage.

Kroger’s head of real estate for the Southeast listened attentively and indicated she would like to address the community’s concerns.  Kroger intends to keep open the current store while the expansion is under construction, and they are focused on starting as soon as possible.  She said that BPCA’s requested site and streetscape improvements would come under Weingarten’s purview, as Kroger is only responsible for store construction.  Kroger will have a 30 year lease on the space, meaning it will be a long time before any Overlay District requirements will have a chance to be applied to the site in the future. Here is a sketch of the Peachtree Road side of the expanded Kroger.

 

A meeting with Weingarten Realty is scheduled for Tues., March 6, to discuss BPCA’s recommendations for parking lot landscaping and street frontage improvements.