The Marietta Daily Journal reports that Cincinnati-based Kroger is in talks to lease the upper level of the Sears store at Cumberland Mall. The new Kroger would be 93,260 square feet, and if all goes well, could open by summer 2016. Sears has recognized that their most valuable assets are their real estate holdings. In the case of Cumberland Mall, Sears owns the 15-acre tract on which their store is located, and as such, has the flexibility to reconfigure their layout. Current plans call for Sears to begin their lower level reconfiguration this June, with plans to vacate the upper level completely by January.
It's believed that this new Kroger would be in addition to the current Kroger store about a mile and a half away at Riverview Village. The Riverview Village Kroger is less than half the size of the proposed Kroger, but was recently renovated and is located at the cusp of the affluent Vinings community.
Currently there are 129 Kroger stores in the grocer's "Atlanta Division." (New Kroger stores are coming soon to Lindbergh Place and Glenwood Place.)
If the plan comes to fruition, it would further Cumberland Mall's title as the most diverse mall in Atlanta. A former J.C. Penney store was demolished in 2005 and reopened as a Costco in 2006. The Costco is not directly connected to the mall though it does have a ground lease with mall operator GGP. The Costco also features a popular fuel center. Given the upcoming Atlanta Braves Stadium and existing offices, Kroger would be wise to add a fuel station as well, but that detail has not yet been publicized. The current Sears auto center would seem to offer the perfect location for the fuel center should that become part of the plans. The Sears auto center occupies an outparcel on the Akers Mill side of the Sears store, the same side where Kroger would have its main entrance. Customers parking on the Akers Mill side would walk right into the grocery on the upper level.
Cumberland Mall opened in 1973 and was once anchored by Davison's, Rich's, J. C. Penney and Sears. The Davison's was eventually renamed Macy's. Later, following the Macy's-Rich's consolidation, the Macy's store was shuttered. The store was demolished and in its place, a new entrance as well as a number of new retailers and restaurants were added to the mall.
This won't be the first time a grocer has opened within a mall in metro Atlanta.
Korean retailer Mega Mart opened their first US store in Gwinnett Place Mall in 2009. The combination retailer and grocery occupies the former Macy's department store and caters to the area's Asian population. When it opened the store, it occupied both floors of the Macy's, but its clothing and housewares business on the second floor was phased out, and today the retailer is primarily a grocery store. The reviews are mixed on the store with many locals preferring to shop at nearby Super H Mart.
Do you think a Kroger makes sense at Cumberland Mall? Do you think both Kroger stores should remain open? If the Kroger store does not opening at Cumberland Mall, what should Sears do with their space?
Please share your thoughts below.