Kroger Co. vowed Friday that none of the grocery chain's Fort Wayne employees would lose their jobs with the permanent closing of the Scott's Foods store on North Anthony Boulevard.
Kroger said the Scott's grocery, 3109 N. Anthony Blvd, which has been closed since May due to a structural problem with the building's roof, is beyond repair and will not reopen. The company also will close a separate Scott's pharmacy at the same location.
But the closings also would prompt a multimillion-dollar remodel of the Scott's store at North Clinton Street and Coliseum Boulevard, including a new Kroger fuel center, company spokesman John Elliot said.
All 63 employees of the Anthony Boulevard store and pharmacy could transfer to Kroger's other Fort Wayne locations such as a new $16.5 million Marketplace superstore set to open this fall in the Village at Coventry, creating dozens of new jobs. Many employees also will transfer from the Kroger store on U.S. 24, which will close when the new superstore opens.
“The good news in terms of our Fort Wayne market is we're saving all the jobs,” Elliot said. “You can't really talk about economic decisions without talking about jobs.”
Besides the dozens of workers transferring from the North Anthony and U.S. 24 locations, Kroger plans to hire 100 more people to staff its southwest-side Marketplace, the second superstore of its kind in the company's Fort Wayne district. The first opened last year at Dupont and Coldwater roads.
Elliot said Kroger had not settled on all the details of the North Clinton store's remodel, but he compared it with the company's ongoing $2.1 million renovation of its Waynedale store, 7008 Bluffton Road, which is set for a December grand re-opening. He said the new gas station would cost another $875,000.
The North Anthony store's closing would come as a blow to north-side neighborhood residents who enjoyed having a supermarket within walking distance, said City Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd.
“While Kroger's announcement to expand throughout the Fort Wayne area is an overall plus, the news of the permanent closing of the Scott's on North Anthony is unfortunate,” Jehl said in a written statement. Jehl co-wrote a letter in June urging Kroger to keep the store open.
The North Anthony grocery has been a staple of Fort Wayne's north side since it opened as Rogers Markets in 1952. Rogers Family Properties, which still owns the building, plans to demolish it, Rogers President Bill Rogers said. Ideally, he said, the company could redevelop the property into a new business after demolishing the store.
Sometime in the next week, Kroger will start marking down merchandise at its North Anthony pharmacy, with the goal of closing it within three week, Elliot said. Everything but alcohol, cigarettes and prescription drugs will be available at discount prices, he said.