Feed the Need

A Fry’s Marketplace long-planned for north Marana will no longer be built. 

Residents of north Marana have been pushing for Kroger to put a grocery store on the plot they own near Gladden Farms, but it seems that battle has been lost. Fry’s parent company, Kroger, has decided to sell the 11 acres of vacant land. 

Kroger has owned the plot on the corner of North Tangerine Farms and North Lon Adams roads since 2006. For over a decade a sign that read “Future Gladden Farms Commercial Center featuring Fry’s Marketplace,” enticed area residents in the  quickly-growing regionwith a population of over 10,000.

The only stores nearby are a Family Dollar and the Marana Grocery Store, carrying only essential items. For a full-service market, residents drive to either a Safeway or one of several Fry’s, an average 12 miles away and a 45-minute round-trip.

Town of Marana Communications Manager Vic Hathaway told Tucson Local Media in an email that the town sees Kroger’s site departure as an “opportunity for other retailers to consider a location in one of southern Arizona’s fastest growing regions and draw patrons as far as Red Rock and the Dove Mountain areas.”

Gladden Farms resident Paul Beringer sees things a little differently.

“It sucks,” he said. “We’re a bit jaded about this whole issue of anything going up there like a grocery store.”

Almost a year ago, Marana launched a petition through Change.org—a plea for Kroger to build the store. But Beringer said it didn’t change a thing.

Gladden Farms Community Association Community Manager Kristina Allen said Kroger selling the land is the second best outcome.

When Kroger originally bought the property from Crown West Land Group, the overall developer for Gladden Farms, the expectation was that they were going to put in a grocery store, said the company’s Vice-president Dean Wingert.

Kroger started construction, putting in some utilities. Then the Great Recession hit, and development was halted—indefinitely.

“We’ve all been hoping the day would come when they would feel better and move forward with it,” Wingert said, adding that there’s now the possibility of a more active developer buying it and putting in something that will benefit the community.

Kroger Corporate Affairs Manager Pam Giannonatti said the company is open to selling it to any interested parties, though no company has shown interest yet. She said Kroger decided to invest in updated technology for its current stores rather than develop the property.

That plot is commercially zoned, and the assessed value is just over $125,000, according to the 2017 property tax statement on Pima County’s website.

Hathaway said Marana’s Economic Development staff are connected with the retail grocery brokerages and inform them of available properties in the community. 

This year, 302 single-family residential home permits have been issued in north Marana, according to Hathaway. And several subdivisions in north Marana are rapidly expanding, in Gladden Farms, Farm Field and Fianchetto. Other subdivisions are nearly ready for homes to go up, including ones in Gladden Farms II, Rancho Marana, Cypress Gardens, Payson Farms and the Villages at Barnett 

“There is a demand for a closer retail grocery store located in north Marana,” Hathaway said.

In the meantime, Beringer has gotten used to ordering food online. He’s a baker, so he likes that his flour just arrives at his door. He picks up little things at the Marana Grocery Store, up the road on North Sandario Road.

But if there were a full grocery in that lot, not far from his home: “I’d ride my bike over there and pick stuff up rather than buying online,” he said.

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