The College Avenue Kroger Grocery Store is preparing to move to Bloomington. The new location targeted is still on College, but on the east side of Veterans Parkway, opposite Meijer. The Bloomington City Council is considering economic incentives at their Monday meeting to facilitate the deal.
Mark Peterson is the City Manager of Normal. He said he does not consider the deal as poaching a business because Kroger approached Bloomington and the agreement involves a business expansion. However, he also said he says it's unclear whether Bloomington City Manager David Hales' notification a couple weeks ago happened early enough in the process for Normal to ask Kroger about ways to meeting their needs.
"I think it's appropriate for both communities once that conversation begins to take place to let the other party know 'hey, they've come to us and they've asked for some help and we're having that conversation,'" said Peterson.
Talks with Bloomington were already so far advanced, Peterson says, that Bloomington had a draft development agreement by the time Peterson was notified.
"We want to continue to be good collaborative neighbors and grow our local economy together, in concert," said Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner. "But sometimes there are going to be situation like this. We had the Hyundai store (O'Brien auto dealership) that moved from Bloomington to Normal about five years ago, and then Dick's Sporting Goods and now this. There's going to be movement in both directions, but we do want to make sure we don't get into bidding wars."
Peterson notes that when the City of Bloomington expressed concerns about the O'Brien auto dealership moving to Normal, the Town delayed action so Bloomington could talk with the business.