FIVE TURN-OF-CENTURY HOMES IN GEORGIA MOVED BY KROGER

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Kroger Co., Cincinnati, has moved five turn-of-the-century homes here in order to build an inner-city store on its site of choice.While the store's exterior will be modeled on Savannah's fabled Old City Market to fit in with the ambience of the area, the interior will resemble a scaled-down version of Kroger's state-of-the-art store in Alpharetta, Ga., Ron Hoffman, manager of store

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Kroger Co., Cincinnati, has moved five turn-of-the-century homes here in order to build an inner-city store on its site of choice.

While the store's exterior will be modeled on Savannah's fabled Old City Market to fit in with the ambience of the area, the interior will resemble a scaled-down version of Kroger's state-of-the-art store in Alpharetta, Ga., Ron Hoffman, manager of store development for the chain's Atlanta division, said.

The new store will be in the city's Historic Planned Development zone, which features turn-of-the-century homes and other landmarks of historical value, Hoffman said. It is scheduled to open early next year.

The site, which borders on an affluent trading area, is undergoing considerable renovation.

Kroger spent 18 months "going through the trials and tribulations necessary for inner-city developments," Hoffman said. The company spent nine months working with city agencies to secure a zoning change that would allow it to build the store on the site.

As part of its arrangement with the city, Kroger agreed to purchase five two-story, wood-frame homes built in the late 1800s on the two-and-a-half-block site.

"The homes were occupied, but they were in need of restoration," Hoffman said. In June the chain moved those structures to empty lots it acquired several blocks away, Hoffman said, and put the homes up for sale.

Kroger now has begun construction on the 43,000-square-foot store, which it hopes to open by the first quarter of 1995.

The store's exterior will feature a red-brick facade to resemble the Old City Market, an indoor farmers' market that was originally located 10 blocks away from the site of the new Kroger store.

The Old City Market was built in the 1850s, destroyed by a fire at the turn of the century, then rebuilt and ultimately demolished for a parking lot in 1952, Hoffman said.

The store's interior will be a shrunken version of Kroger's 96,000-square-foot Alpharetta, Ga., store, he said, featuring a conventional grocery assortment, a small food court with indoor and outdoor seating and a pharmacy (rather than a complete drug store). There will be no club-pack section.

At 43,000 square feet, the new store here will be smaller than the 55,000 to 65,000-square-foot prototype Kroger, Hoffman said.