Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kroger plans Cityplace store if it can sell alcohol there

Kroger wants to build a supermarket near downtown Dallas on the site of the former Loews Cityplace, across from a Target that just got a food makeover.

But before it commits, Kroger said it needs to be able to sell beer and wine.

That would require a variance from the Dallas City Council because the property is within 300 feet of Alex W. Spence Middle School, a violation of city alcohol codes.

Inland Group, developer and owner of the 12-acre site, asked the council's economic development committee Monday to allow a variance. If the council approves the variance, the store could open by the end of 2010 or early 2011.

Kroger has been searching for a downtown location for some time. The area has an Albertsons on McKinney Avenue in Uptown and a Walmart Neighborhood Market on Central Expressway. Nearby in East Dallas, Whole Foods built a new store, and Newflower Market opened in a former Carnival.

The Cityplace Target is one of 100 stores nationwide – but the first in Texas – to get Target's expanded grocery department. It now has about 90 percent of what a SuperTarget stocks, said Kerry Davenport, store manager.

Next year, Target plans to convert 14 more stores in the Dallas area. Within three years, all stores will be converted.

In 2003, Target added more dry food, dairy and frozen food to its discount stores to compete with Walmart Supercenters. But the latest food expansion goes beyond convenience items.

The Cityplace Target now sells beer, and its wine department was expanded. The nearby Albertsons also sells beer and wine.

Kroger hasn't purchased the rights to the property but wants to build a 50,000- to 60,000-square-foot supermarket on about 4 acres. The developer is planning additional retail and condos on the site, said spokesman Gary Huddleston.

"We're not looking at other pieces of property right now," Huddleston said. "This would be a great store if we have the ability to sell beer and wine."