Goodbye, Murder Kroger. Hello, 725 Ponce.
Kroger's Atlanta Division and New City LLC, a firm founded by one of the developers who helped build Ponce City Market, will redevelop the grocery store located on Ponce de Leon Avenue and along the Atlanta Beltline — or as you and everyone else in town knows it, Murder Kroger — as 725 Ponce.
The massive mixed-use development featuring office space — according to a press release, it will "cater to the in-town worker and includes open floor plates with exposed 13-foot ceilings, divided light windows, and a refined industrial aesthetic" — and a new 60,000 square-foot Kroger is expected to break ground this spring.
“Our goal for 725 Ponce is to build on the incredible momentum of Ponce City Market and the BeltLine,” New City LLC Founder and President Jim Irwin said in a statement. “It’s exciting to be able to partner with Kroger to revitalize the property and have an opportunity to design a new building that fits within the context with the historic structures next door and adds another layer to the urban landscape.”
Atlanta Beltline Inc. President and CEO Paul Morris and other real-estate observers have said in the past that the demand for office space along the project is strong, yet the supply is limited. PCM helped fill some of that demand — according to new city, the development is 90 percent leased — but New City and Kroger are betting that if they build it, the companies will come.
The new Kroger will be a "prototype" that will be immediately adjacent to the Beltline and feature a dedicated entrance on the path. Glynn Jenkins, Kroger Atlanta Division's spokesman, says in the statement that the store will stock "an expanded natural foods and organic assortment of products, extensive prepared foods, 'Click List' online grocery ordering, and other amenities so that we may offer even more choices and convenience for our loyal customers." Sounds like someone feels Whole Foods breathing down their neck.
"Below the footprint of the project," the statement says, more than 900 new parking spaces will be constructed to serve the office tenants. Those same spots will be available to the public visiting the Beltline and PCM on the evening and weekends.
New City also wants to work with the owners of the Ford Factory Lofts to create a new dedicated Beltline entrance to their building, "public breezeway, and new BeltLine-Facing retail space inside the existing structure as part of the overall redevelopment."
To build 725 Ponce, however, means demolishing the existing Kroger store. Built in 1986, the store is an Atlanta landmark and the setting for the bizarre, surreal, and tragic. The 24-hour grocery store was a late-night melting pot of drunken revelers, insomniacs, homeless people, and graveyard shift workers looking for a loaf of bread on the way home. Despite efforts to rebrand the location as "Beltline Kroger," tried-and-true Atlantans still called it Murder Kroger. Whether that name sticks when 725 Ponce opens its door remains to be seen.