EXCLUSIVE: Why Location Really Is Everything

Developer shares insights into how it helped Publix find sites for new Kentucky stores
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
a woman smiling for the camera
Publix in Louisville
The new Publix in Louisville is part of a development that includes an additional 4,800 square feet of in-line retail space and two outparcels, according to developer Skilken Gold.

When heading to a new market, pinpointing just the right market is crucial. Indeed, the real estate mantra of “location, location, location” is at the core of expansion strategies, and is exemplified in Publix’s recent move to Kentucky.

As the Lakeland, Fla.-based chain sought to break into new markets to its north, Publix engaged partners including the developer Skilken Gold. The Columbus, Ohio-based firm, which was founded in 1922 and is on its fourth-generation of operation, first connected with the Publix team in 2020. 

Over the next few years, Skilken Gold worked with the grocer to identify and acquire sites and manage the projects. Flash forward, and the firm now owns the building in Louisville, Ky., that houses the first Publix store to open in the Bluegrass State. It opened last month to great local fanfare. 

“We’re very proud of playing a role and are happy for Publix,” said Isaac Gold, VP of real estate at Skilken Gold.

In a recent interview with Progressive Grocer, Gold shared some insights on the process of bringing Publix to Kentucky. “We do a lot of listening and learning. In this example, Publix, as larger organization, has a great deal of metrics that allow us to locate very close to a specific customer,” he explained. “We saw an opportunity and worked extremely hard to identify the property. At the end of the day, it’s all about bringing the product to the consumer.”

The Publix at 2500 Terra Crossing Boulevard is part of a 10-acre parcel on the east side of Louisville, in a fast-growing community near Middletown, Ky. The store is close to a Mercedes-Benz dealership and a soon-to-open bank and offers products and meal solutions for a shopper base that includes local individuals and families as well as members of the local business community. “We are right in the heart of the consumer base, and it’s also easy to access,” said Gold of the site just off I-265.

Publix is set to unveil more outposts in the region, including a site in Lexington, Ky., also owned by Skilken Gold that is slated to open later this year at the Fountains of Palomar development. Skilken Gold, which pivoted from mall development to working with retailers on single-use stores in recent years, is teaming up on projects with other retailers, too, including Walmart and Sheetz.

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The pace of business remains strong for the developer, as retailers’ real estate teams are increasingly working with partners and as the commercial real estate market remains hot. “All of us are waiting for something to give – is land going to get cheaper? – and the answer is no,” Gold reported.

He said that growth in physical stores remains on an upward trajectory. “I believe the pent-up consumer demand from COVID and the ‘I want to get in my car and go out and have a shopping experience’ mindset has really emerged. People did a lot of pickup and delivery, but grocers are starting to see a resurgence,” he noted. Still, he added, technologies that emerged from that era are increasing efficiencies in a good way and have changed the landscape for the food retailing business.  

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