It's a goal leaders on Syracuse's South Side have been working toward for years: establishing a grocery store in an underserved part of the neighborhood. Sarah Blazonis tells us where the project stands and why some say the community itself will may play a crucial role in its success.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Grocery shopping in the South Avenue neighborhood isn't as simple as walking down the block to the local market. Common Council member Khalid Bey says that's because the surrounding area's been without a steady, full-service store for nearly 30 years.
"To only have access, at best, to corner stores that may not provide any fresh produce...not only has an impact on the health, quality of life, the job opportunity that even a supermarket brings is gone," said Bey.
But that could change with plans to build a Price Rite on the corner of South and Bellevue avenues. Jubilee Homes of Syracuse owns the building. It says funding is a major hurdle.
"Central New York Regional Council recommended $1.5 million towards the $5 million project. Then once it went through its vetted process with the state, they recommended only $600,000," said Walter Dixie, Jubilee's executive director.
Jubilee Executive Director Walter Dixie says Price Rite has also expressed concern that a new store could affect business at the one it recently opened on Erie Boulevard. But he says the store is a necessity for the neighborhood.
"There has been zero investment on the South Side of Syracuse, and having an anchor store...would lend opportunity for other businesses to come into the community, but also create living wage jobs," said Dixie.
Dixie says now it's a matter of waiting to see if the project can get more funding from the state, but he says the most important step towards success might have to come from the store's future customers.
He points to the opening of the North Side Tops this week as one success story. And leaders are hoping for the same positive result on the South Side.
"There have been efforts to attract or acquire a grocery store to the area for a long time, so that's very fortunate that people haven't become accustomed or conditioned to not having one," said Bey.
But when they might welcome a new one to the neighborhood is uncertain.
A spokesperson for Price Rite says its store on Erie Boulevard has been well-received by customers. But talks to set up shop at the South Avenue site are in very preliminary stages and no lease has been signed