WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Plans for the giant Kroger Marketplace slated for Tylersville and Cox roads in West Chester Twp. have been dropped for now, but officials say the deal might not be dead.
The township received a letter from Patrick Kejs, senior vice president with Regency Centers, canceling the sales contract to purchase the old Activity Center. There are no details about why the transaction was terminated.
Kroger had agreed to pay the township $1.8 million for the center on Cox Road to clear the way for a 117,166-square-foot Marketplace. The deal was contingent on Regency being able to also purchase the Providence Bible Fellowship church and property from Chesterwood Village.
“We all knew this transaction and development would be a challenge and it simply looks like it will take more time on the part of Regency to make a Kroger deal work,” Township Administrator Larry Burks said. “We will, for now, leave options open regarding the sale of the Cox Road property.”
Ryan Ertel, senior leasing agent at Regency who has been handling the deal, could not be reached for comment. Trustee Mark Welch said he spoke with Ertel on Tuesday and was told the crux of the problem might be the lease agreement with Kroger, but the whole deal isn’t completely over.
“When I talked to Ryan he said, ‘Look, I am still working on this,‘” Welch told the Journal-News. “He said, ‘I don’t want to hold up the land or do anything like that while we’re trying to work through this.’ He said basically Kroger is choking over the lease price.”
Kroger declined comment.
The trustees gave Regency an extension of the timeline that was set in the purchase agreement in March. The company had 90 days to acquire the church and Chesterwood properties and six months to complete due diligence. However three 90-day extensions could be requested at a cost of $50,000 each. The trustees agreed to amend the contract giving Regency another six months with $100,000 due Sept. 8. Since Regency cancelled before the deadline they don’t owe the township any money.
Ertel told the Journal-News at the time of the contract extension there were about 10 other property owners his company needed to reach easement and other agreements with to complete the complicated deal.
“Redevelopment of our existing site may require some of those easements to be expanded or narrowed or refined in some way and all that requires discussion and buy-in from the other parties…,” Ertel said. “So there’s discussions and attorneys and amendments and all that stuff has to be worked through and unfortunately that takes a lot of time.”
Regency had secured agreements with the church and the Dixon family that owns Chesterwood. Church officials could not be reached for comment, but according to their website they have already relocated to the Morning Star Baptist Church location on Summerhill Drive in West Chester. The county auditor’s website shows Providence purchased the property for $2 million Feb. 26. The Cox Road church still belongs to Providence.
Butler County Commissioner Don Dixon said they also received a letter confirming the deal was over. He said they were a very small cog in the whole scheme of things.
“We had an agreement in principal, it wasn’t a done deal with us,” Dixon said. “The concept was doable, but we hadn’t worked out all the details.
The Activity Center sale was initiated by the end of the lease with Community First Solutions last December. The non-profit ran the senior programming and other activities in the building for years. Those programs are now run out of the MidPointe Library.
Welch said if the Kroger deal is truly undone the township will likely attempt to sell the Activity Center again.