FOSTORIA - Up to four school district buildings could be razed this summer to make way for a new Kroger supermarket, city and school district officials announced yesterday.
Kroger wants to erect a 58,000-square-foot store, with a drive-through pharmacy and a fuel station, on part of a seven-acre site bounded by Perry, West High, and Elm streets. The supermarket, scheduled to open in the summer of 2004, would replace a 34,000-square-foot Kroger store that sits nearby.
Mayor John Davoli said the deal culminates two years of work to persuade Kroger to stay in Fostoria instead of building a store outside the city.
“It's a win-win-win,” he said. “It's a win for the city, a win for the schools, and a win for the people who shop there. ... If they take it outside the city limits, we lose the income tax on that, and our schools lose the real estate tax on that. We had a lot of trepidation about that.”
Fostoria school Superintendent Cynthia Lemmerman said the district is negotiating a land sale with Kroger, but nothing has been finalized. At a minimum, the former Emerson Junior High, which closed in the mid-1990s, will be torn down, and other buildings on the site may be razed too.
The former Lowell Elementary School, which closed last year; the district's old administration building, and the school system's receiving building also could face the wrecking ball, Dr. Lemmerman said. “It's an opportunity for the district, versus buildings standing there that aren't bringing in anything for the district,” she said.
Mr. Davoli said the project hinges on the city's plan to seek Community Development Block Grant funds to help pay for demolition costs.
Charlene Kerr, the principal owner of Poggemeyer Design Group of Bowling Green, which is working with the city on the project, said the city hopes to get about $400,000 to prepare the site for Kroger.
Ms. Kerr said Kroger also could get a tax abatement for the project under the Community Reinvestment Act. Any such abatement would require the grocery chain to make up revenue losses to the school district, she said.
When Kroger built a store at King Road and Sylvania Avenue in Sylvania Township, Lucas County granted the company a 15-year, 70 percent tax abatement. In addition, Poggemeyer helped the county commissioners obtain $400,000 in CDBG commercial development funds.
“It's something unique for Fostoria,” Ms. Kerr said. “They've never done anything like this before.”