GREENFIELD — Kohl’s is back, and it’s got company.
The nationwide retail chain presented an amended plan this week to open a store in Greenfield, which includes plans for a PetSmart store to be built beside it. Both stores are scheduled to open in the fall.
Kohl’s first unveiled plans in 2011 to open a 55,000-square-foot store in the Greenfield Business Park just southeast of the Interstate 70 and State Street interchange. But after a string of construction delays, company representatives officially backed out of the plan last April, citing concerns that Greenfield’s population could not support enough sales to justify building a local store that size.
This week, city officials approved a new proposal from the popular retail chain to construct a scaled-down store — about 35,000-square-feet — in the same location it originally proposed. The new plan also outlines plans for a 13,000-square-foot PetSmart store that will share a 5.2-acre lot with Kohl’s. PetSmart will sit next to Gander Mountain, immediately south of Kohl’s.
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Construction on the site, which Kohl’s purchased in 2011 and still owns, is expected to begin March 1.
Kohl’s operates about 1,200 stores across the country and generates annual sales exceeding $19 billion, according to the Kohl’s investor documents. There are 38 Kohl’s stores in Indiana, the closest to Greenfield being the retailer’s Anderson store.
If construction stays on track, Kohl’s and PetSmart are expected to open in Greenfield as early as mid-September, said Colby Price, project manager for the development.
Though significantly smaller than Kohl’s locations in surrounding counties, which measure between 55,000 and 85,000 square feet, the store will offer a similar variety of merchandise as its other locations, said Jack Reynolds, an engineer with Civil Engineers of Southwest Ohio, the construction developer.
“It’s going to have the same departments, same theme as the other stores,” Reynolds said. “They’re just scaling down the quantity of the merchandise.”
Building plans filed with the city’s planning department show both stores will share 230 parking spaces. The parking lot will contain small islands with trees and shrubs, and a 1.3-acre site on the north end of the lot will be available for lease to another company.
A sidewalk will run behind the property along North Martindale Drive, providing access to foot traffic from Gateway Crossing, a neighborhood of single-family homes and apartments to the east of the development.
City officials can’t say for certain why Kohl’s officials decided to give Greenfield another chance.
Paulette Richardson, a member of the Greenfield Advisory Plan Commission, which green-lit development plans for both Kohl’s and PetSmart this week, speculated the retailer might have been wary of the national economy, which was more volatile when Kohl’s first introduced plans than it is now, she said.
Local residents were elated to hear about Kohl’s plans to return.
In 2009, the city’s economic development group surveyed residents to find out what retail options people wanted most.
Kohl’s was the highest-rated retail clothing store in the survey.
Melissa Burkart of Greenfield said she regularly drives to Castleton Square Mall — a roughly 30-minute haul — to do her shopping.
And with two kids, ages 5 and 6, riding in the backseat of her car, that can be a hassle, she said.
“I love our small town, but it’s too stressful to drive to Indianapolis just to get some shopping done,” she said. “I’d definitely appreciate a local option.”
Still, considering the widespread disappointment from residents after the retailer canceled its previous plans, Burkart isn’t getting her hopes up until she sees the open sign.
Officials from Kohl’s and PetSmart could not be reached for comment. It’s unclear how many jobs the businesses might bring, but local leaders are looking forward to hearing more about the numbers.
Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell is eager to see the development move forward.
“It’s going to employ people … and it’s going to offer the type of materials people are looking for,” Fewell said. “It’s something that everybody seems to ask about.”
Richardson expressed disappointment in the retailer’s decision to downsize its original plan.
“When you go from 55,000 to 35,000 (square feet), in my mind, that has to mean there will be less options,” she said. “There are going to be some trade-offs.”
Retta Livengood, president of the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce, said although the store is smaller than originally planned, it will still fill a needed niche.
The downtown area features a handful of small boutiques, but the city lacks a sizable clothing retailer, she said.
Plus, a large department store can sometimes act as a catalyst for a community, drawing other retailers to the area, she said.
“My hope is that this is the first of several big dominoes that will come,” Livengood said. “If Kohl’s is investing in the area, I think others will see the potential, too.”