This story has been updated.
Spalding University confirmed to Insider Louisville that the institution is buying a nearly 1.5-acre property at 924 S. Second St.
“The acquisition of this property is highly strategic as we look at the future of Spalding University and our decision to improve the neighborhood, SoBro and the downtown corridor,” said spokesman Rick Barney. “We do not have particular plans. We will take our time and research what might be best.”
The site was the home of Old Louisville’s only remaining major grocery store; the Kroger there shut its doors in January after 37 years after the company got in a lease dispute with the current property owner State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio.
The State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio also had placed the property on the market for $1.6 million.
“At this time, I can only confirm that we are in contract with a local buyer, and we expect to close on the property in July,” Nick Treneff, a spokesman for the pension fund, said in an email response to Insider regarding Spalding’s impending purchase.
CBRE Louisville represented the seller.
The property is under contract to be sold for $1.075 million, Barney told Insider. He noted that the money for the land purchase would come from fundraising dollars and community partnerships.
“As with all of our capital project, President (Tori Murden) McClure and the trustees are steadfast that we don’t use any student tuition dollars,” he said.
The purchase makes sense for the private university, which owns a number of properties in the Old Louisville and South of Broadway, or SoBro, neighborhoods. Spalding’s Egan Leadership Center is across Third Street from the site.
Barney said, “it’s too early to say” what the property would become or if the former grocery building would be demolished, but he added that he expected future plans for the property would include a “significant green space” as part of Spalding’s greening initiative.
The expansion of the school, adding green space in the neighborhood and proper stewardship are Spalding’s top priorities, he said.
The university expects to break ground in a week or two on a small park at Second and Kentucky streets. In the past, Spalding created Mother Catherine Spalding Square, a site with small grass, shrubs and trees on Breckinridge Street between Third and Fourth streets.
Spalding also is investing $5.5 million in new athletic fields at South Eighth and West Breckinridge streets. That is part of a $30 million capital campaign that includes campus beautification, a renovated library, the creation of a restorative justice program and $6 million in scholarship funds.
With plans for the fields well underway, Barney said that the site at 924 S. Second St. would likely sit for a while as Spalding leaders figured out how best to repurpose it. He added that because of concerns about food deserts, McClure and other university leaders have mentioned possibly leasing the building to a grocery, which could serve the neighborhood while those discussions are taking place.