ROYAL OAK (WWJ) – Protesters are planning to turn out Tuesday night in Royal Oak, as the city’s Planning Commission takes up a controversial proposal for a new Kroger store downtown.
Auday Arabo is the CEO of Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers, a trade association that represents independent supermarkets in Michigan. He said the Kroger project planned for the downtown would threaten the city’s smaller markets like Hollywood and Holiday.
“For 40 plus years, these two stores have been representing and working within the community. And all of a sudden, instead of being embraced by some of these people, some people who are pushing for the Kroger… it’s like a slap in the face,” Arabo said.
Supporters say the new Kroger would spruce up the long vacant building that used to house a car dealer on North Main and University near 11 Mile, bringing an average of 1,000 cars per day.
“You’re not going to increase people buying groceries, you know, because people don’t just buy more groceries because there’s another store there. It’s actually going to hurt all the residents of Royal Oak and the whole feel for Royal Oak. And at the end of the day, two independent grocers that have been there for over 40 years representing the community, they may have to lay people off,” Arabo said.
Supporters say the new store would provide more shopping options downtown, but Arabo doesn’t buy that.
“For those in Royal Oak that want to shop at a Kroger, there’s one not too far away,” Arabo said. “These corporate giants that have limitless resources, they come in and they don’t exactly play nice with the local businesses.”
Representatives from Kroger said the Royal Oak store would be smaller than many of its Metro Detroit counterparts. Of the 70,664-square-foot building, 49,714-square-feet will be used for the store.
According to Kroger, their $18 million investment will create numerous construction jobs during the 10 month construction period, as well as 150 full- and part-time positions once the supermarket opens.
The meeting is scheduled for 7:30 pm Tuesday in the City Commission Chambers.