StevenRocks

Roanoke development

Recommended Posts

StevenRocks    0

Roanoke, Virginia's somewhat troubled inner city gets a boost from a new grocery store opend at a prime intersection. It's not the cheapest form a price standpoint, but certainly is a better deal for local residents who've been without a supermarket for nearly a decade. :)

__________

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Food Giant fills shelves, a big void

"We really need something like this in this part of the community," one customer said.

By Jeff Sturgeon and Jenny Kincaid

The Roanoke Times

Northwest Roanoke residents shopped Tuesday in the quadrant's first centrally located grocery store in nearly 10 years.

Residents of the low-income area said they're tired of paying convenience store prices or driving several miles to shop in a regular supermarket.

They applauded the initiative of two immigrants who converted a vacant auto parts store into a supermarket that opened Feb. 12.

Food Giant, near 24th Street and Melrose Avenue, has two checkout aisles and all the grocery store staples, including fruits and vegetables, meals to go and meat, including fresh pigs' feet. A 1-by-3-mile area at the center of Northwest has been without a full-service grocery store for nine years.

"It's about time. We really need something like this in this part of the community," said Anthony Henderson of Northwest Roanoke, who bought $84.38 worth of groceries for his family. He said Food Giant is less expensive than a nearby convenience store - charging $1 less for four rolls of toilet paper - and will save him from having to drive 10 or 15 minutes to reach a full-service supermarket.

"I'm definitely going to shop here," said hotel employee and neighborhood resident Mary Mann, giving similar reasons.

Louis Turner, who is disabled, rode an electric scooter into Food Giant, bought Ritz crackers and a loaf of bread, and turned toward his nearby home, saying "It's close for me. I can get some things that I want."

Northwest Roanoke is home to the Roanoke Valley's greatest concentration of minorities and low-income people. Residents unwilling or unable to travel to grocery stores at the edge of the quadrant or in another area altogether have had little choice but to buy food in convenience stores, where prices are often higher than in supermarkets. Offerings are often limited to milk and juice, nonperishables and, perhaps, bacon or cold cuts.

A Kroger operated at 19th Street and Melrose Avenue for 22 years before closing in 1985. The Roanoke Times' archives show that the last supermarket to operate in Northwest's large central residential area, BK Community Supermarket, closed in 1996. On that site is a CVS, which sells cold beverages and canned and boxed food, but no produce or meat.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last month recommended that Americans eat two cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables daily.

There is no such grocery gap in Roanoke's south end or in Southwest Roanoke County, where many middle- and upper-income people reside. Southwest Roanoke County has a Food Lion and three Krogers, including two large and extensively stocked Krogers a half-mile apart. A fifth grocery store is planned for the area. Also serving the southern sector, Towers Shopping Center has a Kroger and is getting a Fresh Market. A Ukrop's grocery store is planned one-quarter mile away.

Reasons for grocery store failure in Northwest are unclear, but Clarice Walker, president of the Loudon-Melrose Neighborhood Organization, said some were unclean or inadequately stocked, except for tobacco and beer.

"There's plenty of need for a nice grocery store in this area," she said. Walker drives to the Wal-Mart near Bonsack or to the Food Lion on U.S. 220 to shop for her groceries.

Food Giant's owners, Akram "Jack" Habazi and Jamal Al-Bishah, opened their supermarket because the area needed one, Habazi said. At 11,500 square feet, it is not as big as a Kroger or a Food Lion, which can exceed 40,000 square feet, but it is stocked with as much variety as possible, Habazi said. The store employs seven, including the two owners.

Food Giant is not affiliated with any chain, but additional locations are possible if the first does well, Habazi said.

"We expect support from the community," he said.

Habazi, 42, said he is Palestinian and moved from the West Bank to the United States in 1987, settling in the Roanoke Valley because he has family here. He said he is married with six children and that 20 members of his family live in the valley. His partner is his cousin and is Jordanian, he said. They previously owned and operated convenience stores in the valley, the latest of which, Jack's Lancer Mart, was sold so they could open Food Giant, Habazi said.

Estelle McCadden, president of the Melrose/Rugby Neighborhood Forum, said she regrets the city has not done more to help start or attract a grocery store serving Northwest. She said she often drives people who do not have transportation to Kroger at Towne Square Shopping Center.

McCadden noted that the city earmarked $9 million in tax incentives to bolster the proposed South Roanoke retail center to contain a Ukrop's.

Habazi said he inquired with city officials about the possibility of a subsidy for Food Giant and was told his project had to involve renovation of a building. It does not, said Habazi, who leased the structure.

City officials could not be reached for comment.

Tuesday, a small but steady trickle of customers entered Food Giant to look or shop. Retiree Eugene Simon of Northwest Roanoke ordered a to-go box with beef ribs, wings, corn and cheesy macaroni.

Two sisters from Northwest Roanoke left empty-handed, saying they were headed to Food Lion. Food Giant's prices are no better than those of a convenience store, Maxine Payne said. "My little dollar's got to be stretched," Teresa Payne said.

Aba Morris, who noted that she is from Ghana and now lives in Southwest Roanoke, applauded the freshness of the pigs' feet, which were a pinkish yellow and not brown, a sign of age, and going for 99 cents a pound.

News researcher Belinda Harris contributed to this report.

Link to article

edit: renamed

Edited by vdogg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


rusthebuss    1

I heard that Roanoke is really growing and im glad to hear that. I can't stand Richmond with their backwards politics and the way they treat other metro needs in this state which includes Roanoke. They act like they are the biggest metro in the state and their needs need to be addressed before other areas that actually are bigger than they are.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
StevenRocks    0

I heard that Roanoke is really growing and im glad to hear that. I can't stand Richmond with their backwards politics and the way they treat other metro needs in this state which includes Roanoke. They act like they are the biggest metro in the state and their needs need to be addressed before other areas that actually are bigger than they are.....

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The powers that be certainly do have a lopsided view when it comes to areas outside Rchmond. The arts and infrastructure around Roanoke is always delegated to last place in the minds of state planners and budgets always seem to cut out funding for anything west of Charlottesville and east of Williamsburg.

Then local governments do their share of stupid things, maybe not in Eastern Virginia, but definately in Western Virginia. The City of Roanoke is providing $9 million in funds over 15 years to a developer who's buliding a Ukrop's in a fairly upscale neighborhood surrounded by well-stocked supermarkets, but don't plan to provide any subsides to keep the Food Giant afloat, even though people in its Northwest Roanoke neighborhood have few food options within easy walking distance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
StevenRocks    0

model_final.jpg

I opened the Roanoke Times on Sunday and saw what could possibly become the most beautiful contemporary building ever constructed in Western Virginia! The new Art Museum of Western Virginia design is bold, expressive and sorely need in Roanoke, a town that seems so doggedly determined to preserve its past that it

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
willy    0

What do you think?
I like it, though it doesn't look like anything that would come out of Roanoke or Virginia for that matter. I sure hope this thing gets built.

Bingham called the cost "a moving target."

God, that's scary! Might wanna hit it soon, this is state money right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
vdogg    327

Wow. That is a very striking building and it definately does not look like anything you'd see in Roanoke. I really hope they go through with this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
StevenRocks    0

From what I've heard, the Art Museum has most of the money raised that they need for consrtuction, so when the 'angry villagers with torches' come after them (it's already starting to happen) it shouldn't affect their plans too much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

StevenRocks    0

I don't understand why anyone would not want this in there area? I'm not in to art but I know these things are good for the cities.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The backers of the art museum kept the design a secret until last Sunday because of possible flack, and I can see why. I looked at some of the message boards at the Roanoke Times and I've heard complaints about the architecture, the architect, the location, the cost, the involvement of taxpayer dollars (although it's really tiny compared to the overall cost), you name it.

There's a loud minority of people in Roanoke who seemingly don't like anything new, architecture or otherwise, especially if it uses taxpayer money, and the majority of cooler heads usually let them have their way, which really screws up things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rusthebuss    1

Sorry to hear that. That is a key way for the area to start really becoming urban. But i do understand why they are worried. They might be worried that it will become a major money drain to the area if the museum doesn't work out in the area.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
StevenRocks    0

It's risky, to be sure, but the rewards could far exceed the initial costs.

The funny part is that out of a $46 million construction cost, the amount contributed by the state, local, and federal sources combined comes to $10 million. Compare this to the $9 million in tax incentives the city alone is putting towards a shopping center anchored by Ukrop's and the amount of taxpayer money involved is pretty tiny. Yet there are people who are close to outraged by this project, mostly because it looks different and supports the arts.

Closed-minded community wags are already lampooning the architecture, but the design is copletely appropriate for the site and was guided by the architect's inspiration from our local natural features.

Randall Stout's museum design draws on mountains and valleys.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
vdogg    327

I don't understand why anyone would not want this in there area? I'm not in to art but I know these things are good for the cities.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Whenever something is new and innovative, the villagers with pitchforks are never far behind. There are people in this world who exist solely to oppose things, sad but true. For every 10 NIMBY complaints i can usually only find the logic in 1 or 2 of them. Since Roanoke is not a city known for major urban style development, this project will stand out. I view that as a plus. Some others who live in the community may view it as a minus.

Edited by vdogg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
vdogg    327

Sorry to hear that. That is a key way for the area to start really becoming urban. But i do understand why they are worried. They might be worried that it will become a major money drain to the area if the museum doesn't work out in the area.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Rus-Since you're from this area you may remeber all the uproar surrounding the 31st street hotel (now called 31 ocean and opening this month). It's the same thing. Va. Beach had a small and vocal minority of Nimbys that didn't want another highrise on the oceanfront, but that small group was able to hold the project up for years! Never underestimate the power of a ticked off local with too much time on their hands. The funny thing is, now that the hotel is built, you barely hear anything about it anymore. A lot of people have come to like it. I think this will be the same way. People are opposing this project because people tend to oppose change in any form. Once it is built however, they may come to appreciate it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
StevenRocks    0

People are opposing this project because people tend to oppose change in any form. Once it is built however, they may come to appreciate it.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You're right vdogg, and I hope that the art museum will turn out to be a community favorite once it's built and attracting attention.

Then again, when Stabucks proposed a location in town these same people were out protesting, too. I can't stand NIMBYs: they'll swat at a gnat and swallow a camel! :(

Edited by StevenRocks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

rusthebuss    1

Rus-Since you're from this area you may remeber all the uproar surrounding the 31st street hotel (now called 31 ocean and opening this month). It's the same thing. Va. Beach had a small and vocal minority of Nimbys that didn't want another highrise on the oceanfront, but that small group was able to hold the project up for years! Never underestimate the power of a ticked off local with too much time on their hands. The funny thing is, now that the hotel is built, you barely hear anything about it anymore. A lot of people have come to like it. I think this will be the same way. People are opposing this project because people tend to oppose change in any form. Once it is built however, they may come to appreciate it.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yeah there is always some group opposing things in this area, but i think that every city has a set of these guys. I'm surprised not to hear anything being protested in Norfolk yet. There probably will be in the near future.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wrldcoupe4    199

Roanoke won't know what hit them when Ukrop's opens there. They blow kroger and food lion out of the water.

Ukrop's is closed on Sundays and doesn't sell alcohol, yet they still control 40% of the Richmond grocery market. Their newer stores are all at least about 52,000 sq. ft.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
StevenRocks    0

I look forward to Ukrops, too, but still I have to wonder why it is necessary or apporpriate to put that much taxpayer money into a strip mall just to get one.

Edited by StevenRocks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
vdogg    327

I look forward to Ukrops, too, but still I have to wonder why it is necessary or apporpriate to put that much taxpayer money into a strip mall just to get one.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Taxpayer subsidies of grocery stores is odd. The fact that this is going into an affluent neighborhood makes me wonder why they need the subsidy in the first place. I'm curious to know, overall how would you say the Roanoke economy is doing right now? That might help put a little perspective on things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
StevenRocks    0

I'm curious to know, overall how would you say the Roanoke economy is doing right now? That might help put a little perspective on things.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Overall the Roanoke economy is growing, but the growth rates are very low. There seems to be some positive growth in the upper-income sector (especially considering the number of upscale subdivisons going up around town), but there's little to no growth of the middle class, and poverty seems to be on the rise. Job growth is concentrated in the service industries and some technology markets.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wrldcoupe4    199

Hey stevenrocks...glad to see you're looking forwards to the U coming. You won't be dissapointed. I remember reading that the property this center will sit on would be on top of a creek/flood plain. They said they needed to reroute the creek or develop a set of underground tunnels to funnel the creek beneath the development. I don't remember the exact details of the project exactly, but perhaps the money allocated by Roanoke is for this portion of the project??? I agree it is unusual for a city to fork out that much money for a project such as this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
StevenRocks    0

You're right. The site is a little rougher than averege and a creek will have to be rerouted to site the store. A similar project with a Wild Oats Market anchor was attempted on the site a few years ago but never got past the planning stage because of some of the same site concerns.

But I thought the project was financially lucrative enough to embark on without the incentives, especially with Ukrops being a stronger project anchor. Some incentives were needed to grease the wheels a bit but not to the extent the city offered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wrldcoupe4    199

I think its great to see this addition to the Roanoke area. The arts are really blooming in virginia. The virginia museum of fine arts in Richmond is building $108million 100,000sf expansion designed by Rick Mather onto the 240,000 sf it already has. talk about gallery space. It will be interested to see the modern addition mix with the more classical look of the rest of the museum. However, its great news that this awesome modern structure that will transform the Roanoke skyline is another addition to the arts in virginia. Any plans like these in the hampton roads area?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rusthebuss    1

I think its great to see this addition to the Roanoke area. The arts are really blooming in virginia. The virginia museum of fine arts in Richmond is building $108million 100,000sf expansion designed by Rick Mather onto the 240,000 sf it already has. talk about gallery space. It will be interested to see the modern addition mix with the more classical look of the rest of the museum. However, its great news that this awesome modern structure that will transform the Roanoke skyline is another addition to the arts in virginia. Any plans like these in the hampton roads area?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

We have the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk its been there for years

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wrldcoupe4    199

We have the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk its been there for years

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I was asking about if there were plans for an expansion of arts venues in Hampton Roads such as the Chrysler Museum....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.