Indianapolis neighborhood looking to solve 'food desert' problem
Marsh opens its new downtown grocery store Thursday morning. The store, at Senate and Capitol, is part of new multi-million-dollar development that includes hundreds of apartments.
The mixed use development at the old Market Square Arena site, meantime, includes plans for a Whole Foods. That's two new grocery stores downtown, when not too far away, residents would be happy to have just one.
The Avondale Meadows area has a new apartment complex, a new health center and a new YMCA. What it still lacks is a full-service grocery store. The neighborhood is one of the city's "food deserts."
"It's one of our highest priorities that we have," said Amandula Anderson with the United Northeast Community Development Corp.
Anderson says the nearest grocery - with a pharmacy and deli - is three miles away. That's a long way when 40 percent of the residents rely on public transit.
Will King, who's had a barber shop in the area for several years, says a lot of people go to the Walgreens, Family Dollar or gas station for groceries and pay a lot more.
"It might be $3 for a bar of soap when you can pay $3 for a pack of soap, so everything is overpriced," he said.
Robert Webster, who takes care of his grandmother, says even with a car, getting groceries is a hassle.
"Gas-wise, yeah, and it just takes so much out of your day, add an extra half an hour just to go get food and that extra hour shopping, and then on the way back that's a couple of hours gone," he said.
Kroger's John Elliott says he understands the area's desire for a grocery store.
"But you can't succeed in this business with very thin margins in retail by putting a store that won't succeed in the wrong place," said Elliott.
Anderson says she gets that and they are working hard to recruit a Kroger or a Marsh.
"It may take a tax abatement or creating a special TIF within our area, but the idea is that if we're able to work with them, they'll begin a community grocery store and not just a run of the-mill grocery store within our community," said Anderson.
She said the hope is to have a deal in the next eight months or so.