A standing-room-only crowd of Springfield residents expressed concerns and unhappiness with Kroger on Tuesday night as the grocery store giant moved closer to closing its location at 1822 S. Limestone St. in March.
“The city had no other recourse,” Denise Williams, Springfield NAACP Unit president, told News Center 7’s Monica Castro. “When Kroger said ‘we’re pulling out,’ they are pulling out. But what the city can do is negotiate.”
City leaders told the packed auditorium at The Dome what they did to negotiate a less bitter end:
- Kroger officials agreed to donate to the city the building and the land on which it sits
- Kroger officials agreed to give more than $31,000 to support shuttle services to other grocery stores
- Kroger officials agreed to contribute at least $19,000 to the food bank.
City Commissioner Dr. David Estrop said, “the bottom line is we negotiated in good faith and got everything we wanted from Kroger. You better take that home.”
The company would not have come to the table had it not been for city residents pressing their demands, he said.
City leaders encouraged residents to remain positive as they work to create a long-term solution.
"When it became clear to us that Kroger would not keep the South Limestone store open, we asked the company to do right by our community," City Manager Bryan Heck said in a prepared statement before Tuesday night’s public meeting.
"Closing this store left the community without fresh food options and would create difficulties for some individuals to reach other grocery stores due to mobility issues."
Heck said officials are moving forward in talks with potential developers and community organizations to map out a future for the South Limestone property.
"This community is resilient; I'm proud of the way that this community comes together to find solutions to difficult issues," Heck said. "We succeed when we work together, it's when we are at our best, and this community is committed to finding positive outcomes in the wake of Kroger's decision."
What will happen to the building remains uncertain.