Friday, July 16, 2021

[EXCLUSIVE] Publix to Replace "Disco Kroger" in Buckhead

It was made public recently that Kroger will be leaving its longtime home along Piedmont Road in Buckhead.  The store, known to many as "Disco Kroger," is slated to close in "about a year," just shy of what would have been its 50th birthday in 2025.  After opening in August 1975, the store has been renovated several times over the years including its most recent one in 2008 when it converted to Kroger's upmarket "Fresh Fare" moniker. 

Kroger has not commented on the closure, but real estate sources tell ToNeTo Atlanta that the grocer was likely "out of options," i.e. its lease is ending and the grocer was not presented with acceptable terms to renew and had no options left on its existing lease.  

The 55,520 square foot Kroger store anchors "Piedmont Peachtree Crossing," known to locals as the "Disco Kroger" center.  The store opened in August 1975, and it was one of the first 24-hour Kroger locations in town. Limelight, referred to as the "Studio 54 of the South," opened next door in February 1980, and saw many of its patrons hit up the Kroger after a night on the dance floor.  The store, like many other Kroger stores, is no longer a 24-hour operation.

Interestingly, there was actually a second "Disco Kroger," 800 miles away in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston, Texas.  Here, the store got its name for similar reasons and also is leaving for a new development.  The 42 year old store closed this past January with its roughly two acre property acquired by Augusta-based Southeastern Real Estate Group.  The firm is expected to develop retail and multifamily on the site.

In a July 7 presentation before the Buckhead Design Review Committee, representatives from Regency Centers, who own the Buckhead shopping center, indicated that they plan to redevelop a significant portion of the roughly 11 acre property and that Kroger would not be part of the new project. 

Instead of Kroger, Regency will be bringing a "Major Grocer" to the redeveloped project, which we heard previously and have now confirmed will be a new Publix store.  At 54,965 square feet, the new Publix would be slightly smaller than the existing Kroger, but would be the largest store for the Lakeland, Florida-based grocer in Buckhead, and one of its biggest in the state.  ToNeTo Atlanta reported in June that Publix has more than a dozen new stores in the works in Georgia, but most will be 48,387 square feet, the grocer's current prototypical store size. 

Regency Centers owns 19 centers in Georgia, and of those, twelve are grocery anchored.  Publix is Regency's anchor tenant in 50% of its grocery anchored centers in Georgia with Kroger in only one: Piedmont-Peachtree Crossing.  

Publix already operates five stores in Buckhead: The Peach, Lenox Marketplace, Chastain Square, West Paces & Howell Mill Village, and it is believed that the new store is meant to further augment their dominant position in the market rather than replace any existing store(s).  [Chastain Square and Howell Mill Village are both Regency Centers properties.]

A source close to the project tells ToNeTo Atlanta that the Kroger store could close as soon as the end of this year and that Publix is likely to open during the first half of 2023.  When the project reopens it is expected to carry a new name, but that information is not yet finalized/available.  

For its part, Kroger will, after the closure, have just one store in Buckhead, in Lindbergh, where the company debuted their 84,397 square foot store in late 2016.  There is also a large format Kroger along Peachtree Road in nearby Brookhaven.  Kroger has in years past closed small format or otherwise duplicative stores in Brookhaven (Brookhaven Plaza) and South Buckhead (Brookwood Place).  

Publix, known for its superior customer service, but also its higher prices, is a more desirable tenant, according to multiple real estate professionals who spoke to ToNeTo Atlanta.  Publix, rather than Kroger as an anchor, is said to attract a more affluent customer as well as more desirable small shop tenants.  

There are currently eleven vacant spaces in the center including those created by the closures of Marco's Pizza, Burgerfan,  Chase Bank and Sweet Samba, a wax salon, all of  which closed over the past year or so.  The roughly 20,000 square foot junior anchor space to the right of Kroger has been largely vacant since former tenant Cost Plus World Market relocated to sibling center Buckhead Station in 2016.  The space is currently the temporary home of Candytopia, an immersive candy museum, attraction and retail store.  

A enlarged photo from Limelight displayed at the "Disco Kroger"

The project will slightly decrease parking capacity from 522 to 498 spaces, not nearly as significant a change as was proposed in early 2016.  At that time, a more dense, mixed-use project, reportedly including Kroger, was planned by then-owner Equity One Inc., but those plans never materialized, and by late 2016, Equity One was acquired by Regency Centers.  

Are you surprised that Kroger its closing its only Buckhead store?  What types of restaurants or retailers would you like to see join the revamped Piedmont Peachtree Crossing project?  Where do you do most of your grocery shopping?

Please share your thoughts below. 


Anonymous said...

Great news. But just wait until the union that controls Kroger's workers gets wind of this. There will be repercussions!

Ham said...

Well, I never shop at any Kroger, so from that standpoint I don't really care. However, as a life long resident that actually remembers what that Center was like "back in the day" it is a little sad.

CeeCee said...

So Kroger is being forced out in favor of Publix? Kinda reminds me of what happened at Peachtree Square/Peachtree Square North in Norcross/Peachtree Corners around 2010. If I recall, the situation was similar, except the Publix was already there - right next door. The older Kroger store was apparently forced out at the end of its lease, so the Publix (and the Target store also in the center) would have less competition.

That Kroger's space got filled with a Dick's Sporting Goods and a PetSmart. Since then, Peachtree Corners hasn't had a Kroger, even though every city surrounding it or nearby does.

Theron Sapp said...

Welcome Disco Publix!

An aside re Kroger: Isn't "Lindbergh" technically Buckhead? I think the city, or maybe the Buckhead Coalition, defines it as everything north of 85 and south of Sandy Springs.

Unknown said...

No there won't. The UFCW ceased being relevant decades ago

Anonymous said...

Buckhead has certainly experienced "boundary creep" through the years. I can remember when Lenox Square was definitely not considered to be part of Buckhead, and the southern boundary stopped at Peachtree Battle Avenue.

As an example of how absurd things can get, someone once put out a marketing flyer for Northeast Plaza on Buford Highway claiming it was "In North Buckhead".

Anonymous said...

Was hoping for a 2 story Wegmans. Sorely disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Would have been perfect for a TX-based Central Market.

Anonymous said...

You said it, Anonymous..a 2 story Wegmans! That would be phenomenal...though Publix's customer service is the best...much better than Kroger.

Anonymous said...

Wegmans would have been great but this place is PERFECT for Central Market. But HEB will never come here to compete with Publix.

ufbvb said...

We stopped by this Kroger last night a little after 6. What a disaster. Checkout lines including self check were a mile long and moving very slowly. Customer service was closed. We hadn't been here since preCovid and the store looked tired and run down. Obvious why Real Estate Management wants to dump this poorly run store.

Tahar.B said...

The sorriest Kroger in town run by unqualified managment.

Unknown said...

No there won't. The UFCW gave up a long long time ago. They only exist to collect dued s

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