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After more than three years of vacancy, Denison’s Kroger building may soon have a new tenant. The Denison City Council unanimously approved a$200,000 economic development agreement Monday night related to a new Ace Hardware location in the former grocer.

Kroger announced in February 2019 that it would be closing its Denison location on Crawford Street after nearly 50 years of business within the community. Shortly after, the Denison Development Alliance started work on finding a new business to fill the hole in the heart of the community.

“It is a pleasure to be here and tell you, if you don’t already know we have an Ace Hardware in the former Kroger building,” Denison Development Alliance President Tony Kaai said Monday before the city council. “It hasn’t been fast, but we started this project in June of 2019.”

The news that Ace Hardware was coming to town was first announced in the summer of 2021 during the city council’s annual budget retreat. While Kaai at the time would not confirm the tenant was Ace Hardware, slides during the budget retreat presentation confirmed the retailer intended to move into the former grocer.

While work on finding a tenant for the Kroger building began in 2019, the city has been in talks and negotiations with Ace Hardware for more than a decade, Kaai said. “The number one priority of this project was the redevelopment of that site, which is located in downtown basically, and it’s one of our major corridors and we do not, did not want to see a vacant building continue to decline,” he said. The initial version of the incentives was drafted nearly two years ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the project. A more formalized version of the agreement was formed earlier this year. 

The former Kroger building provided the opportunity for Ace to move into the community. However, the site would need extensive work to make it viable, Kaai said. The building is undergoing an extensive remodel where the majority of the interior has been gutted. Outside the building, the facade is being transformed to match the building’s new use. Ace Hardware will use about 16,500 square feet of the building once it is complete. Another 3,500 square feet will be used for an attached convenience store and the remaining 8,750 will be reserved for other retail or office uses. Kaai said the office and retail portion may not be fully built out until an end user is identified.

The city council approved $200,000 in sales and property tax rebates for the project. Kaai said these rebates will be given over the course of five years, and he fully expects Ace to be able to recoup all of these funds.

Current plans call for the retailer to open its doors some time in November in time for the holiday season, Kaai said.

By Michael Hutchins

Herald Democrat  | August 18, 2022

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