Beginning today, the Ponce de Leon Avenue grocery store colloquially known as "Murder Kroger" will be undergoing a facelift, and officials hope the physical changes will scrub the retailer's public image as well. In a press release, Kroger officials understandably make no mention of homicide or killing or even nonfatal shootings. Instead, they refer to the Poncey-Highland mainstay (it opened way back in 1984) as "Beltline Kroger." The "highly visible" improvements to the Kroger building and its environs include a permanent bicycle/pedestrian ramp to the Eastside Trail, more trees, new landscaping, a new parking surface and a fresh coat of paint for Beltline Kroger itself, officials said. "This Kroger has served the Old Fourth Ward, Midtown, Poncey-Highland, Virginia-Highland and surrounding areas for three decades," Glynn Jenkins, a spokesperson for Kroger's Atlanta Division, said in the release. "The site improvements continue the investments we've already made on the inside of the store, and we expect the opening of Beltline access will give our customers — whether they're on foot, bicycle, skates or however they choose to travel — another easy alternative to get to the store."
The company's plans make Kroger sound like Walden Pond. Expect to see 45 Allee Elm and Forest Pansy Red Bud trees planted and a "water quality pond" near the parking lot's center, which will collect and filter rain water entering the storm drain system. Other changes include new curbs and sidewalks (with a sidewalk stretching all the way to Ponce) and the addition of a bicycle rack and even a bicycle repair station. Construction is expected to be finished in November.
Kroger's interior spruce-up includes an updated design with an expanded pharmacy, new lighting, eco-friendly fixtures and other upgrades — all completed in March, officials said.
One potential problem: Murd … err … um … Beltline Kroger might have to vie for that title with the planned big-box anchor (Kroger) at Jeff Fuqua's Beltline-connected development near Glenwood Park. Will that be confusing, or can two "Beltline Krogers" coexist in Atlanta? Maybe the better question is this: Can landscaping and fresh paint put a murderous moniker to rest?