By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
The ongoing plans to build a bigger, more modern City Market grocery store in Carbondale have been delayed for a third time, thanks to internal financial shifts at The Kroger Co., the parent corporation that owns City Market and King Soopers in Colorado.
The town board of trustees (BOT) on Sept. 27 granted an extension to Feb. 28, 2017, for filing the subdivision plat governing the development, which is to be built on property northwest of the intersection of Highway 133 and West Main Street, adjacent to the Colorado Rocky Mountain School grounds.
The project was approved in March, and calls for construction of a 59,000 square foot store, to replace the 44,000 square-foot store that currently operates at the Crystal Village Plaza shopping center located to the south of the new store’s site.
The plat filing deadline, which originally was set for June 14, has been extended twice before — once to Aug. 14 and then to Oct. 11, according to documents presented to the trustees.
In a letter to the town, King Soopers/City Market real estate division manager Joel Starbuck of Denver wrote that an “unforeseen capital reallocation” by the Kroger Co. is behind the requested extension.
Kroger, according to documents on its website, last month announced an “incremental $500 million share repurchase program,” which was linked to the freeze of assets, and in its second-quarter earnings report issued in early September indicated it was reducing its anticipated capital-investment program from $4.4 billion to $3.9 billion.
The lower capital investments plan, according to a statement issued by the company, comes at a time when Kroger’s projected earnings and dividend payments also have been reduced on a per-share basis.
But, according to Harrington, he has not gotten any indications that the planned new store is threatened by these financial wobbles, and that the closing date on Kroger’s purchase of the property is scheduled for February of next year.
He reportedly told the trustees that the changes to the development schedule apparently have not changed the company’s projected opening of the new store next year.
The company has completed the engineering required prior to recording of the plat, according to a memo to the trustees, and the applicant has submitted a building permit application that currently is under review at town hall. Construction is scheduled to begin on the new store next spring.
According to statements on the Kroger Co.’s website, the company is in good financial shape, and sales are expected to grow at a rate of between 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent for the remainder of 2016 (between 1.4 and 1.8 percent for the year).
Kroger, according to its website, operates 2,781 retail food stores and other facilities, under a variety of local identities, in 35 states and the District of Columbia.
Published in The Sopris Sun on October 6, 2016.