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Macon midtown Kroger closing next month

Customers ‘distressed’ over closing of Kroger in Macon

Customers react to the news Monday, March 26, 2018, that the Kroger grocery store at 400 Pio Nono Ave. in Macon, Georgia, is closing in April. Many shopped at the store, used the pharmacy and bought gas at the fuel station.
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Customers react to the news Monday, March 26, 2018, that the Kroger grocery store at 400 Pio Nono Ave. in Macon, Georgia, is closing in April. Many shopped at the store, used the pharmacy and bought gas at the fuel station.

Midtown Macon and its Vineville and Stanislaus neighborhoods are losing their grocery store.

The Kroger store at 400 Pio Nono Ave. is scheduled to close April 20, the company's Atlanta division announced Monday.

"We're dumbfounded," one worker said Monday as the news became public.

The building, with its clock tower rising up between Vineville, English and Roff avenues, employs 125 workers and does a brisk business at the gas pumps.

"All 125 associates will be considered for reassignment to other Kroger locations as outlined in the company's collective bargaining agreement," a release stated.

The statement cited "declining sales and negative profit over an extended period" as the reason the store will be closing.

"Its closure is necessary to make Kroger more competitive in the market," the release stated.

Shoppers were encouraged to choose the Kroger locations at 660 North Ave., about 3.4 miles away, or 4650 Forsyth Road, 3.7 miles away, or 4628 Presidential Parkway, a little more than 4 miles from the midtown store.

Locations on Tom Hill Sr. Boulevard and Hartley Bridge Road also will remain open.

In August 1994, residents of the Vineville Neighborhood Association fought plans for the store, and a Bibb County judge ruled against the company that December, saying that the Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission's approval of the project was "a manifest abuse" of its authority. The association maintained that the store would bring an increase in traffic, noise, trash — and a decrease in property values.

The Planning and Zoning Commission approved new plans in March 1995, but neighbors sued again.

After months of legal battles, the Georgia Supreme Court approved Kroger's project.

Work began on the 23-acre site in January 1997, and the 78,000-square-foot building opened that November.

"One of our arguments back then was that the store ... would not be successful," said Jim Marshall, a former Macon mayor who represented the association in litigation. "Our worry was that it wouldn't have staying power. It's hard to imagine what you might wind up putting in there."

The historic Vine-Ingle community seemed to eventually embrace the "CitiCenter" concept, which had a nail salon, insurance agency, gift shop, bank and police precinct inside.

A toy train circled the frozen food section, and the store had enough bells and whistles to draw a large crowd on opening day.

A loft apartment project once planned behind the supermarket was scrapped after a fire in March 2011 destroyed the old Atlantic Cotton Mills buildings slated for redevelopment.

The store was the scene of a controversial police shooting in December 2012.

Macon police officer Clayton Sutton shot and fatally wounded 49-year-old Sammie "Junebug" Davis Jr. in the parking lot.

Davis, who frequented the store, was not armed, but he did scratch the officer's neck during a struggle.

His death sparked protests in the community.

The GBI investigated the incident for months before District Attorney David Cooke announced that prosecutors had ruled that the shooting was justified.

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