Economic Development

City Gets 2 Proposals for Grocery Store Building

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The city plans to release information possibly as early as today regarding the two proposals it received for the former Bottom Dollar Food property on the South Side.

Neither of the proposals were from established grocers. The city had hoped to attract another full-service grocery store to the site, which had been without one for several years when Bottom Dollar Food opened there four years ago.

The city received responses from Big Dipper Food Inc., Youngstown, and Valley Christian Church, Columbiana, by yesterday’s noon deadline.

The original deadline was Feb. 1. The city extended the deadline when it received no proposals.

Bottom Dollar Food opened three stores in Youngstown – including the Glenwood Avenue location — four years ago. The grocery store chain, a subsidiary of Food Lion parent Delhaize Group was purchased by Aldi Inc., which closed the Bottom Dollar Food stores.

Last year Aldi turned over to the city the Glenwood Avenue store, which was built on property the city donated. City officials then put out a request for proposals for the property, with a preference for a grocery store at the location.

The city did not disclose the contents of the proposals Wednesday. T. Sharon Woodberry, director of community planning and economic development, said her office would review the two submissions. “We can have a summary of what was proposed no later than Friday,” and probably today, she said.

Valley Christian Church, which meets at 5500 Market St. in Boardman, wants to convert the 18,000-square-foot building into a multipurpose community center, said Len Derico, pastor.

“We really don’t want the building for a Sunday morning service only. We would like to use the building to make a community connection for all ages,” Derico said.

In addition to using the space for worship services, the church wants to convert the space, over three years, for uses including recreation, Internet café, clothing outlet and food bank. Other services it would provide include life skills training, senior citizens programs, counseling and assistance with putting together resumes.

“We just want to make a difference. We hope that Youngstown will see that this is a very good thing for the future and we believe it will be,” Derico said.

In its proposal, the church asks that the city provide the building at no cost, but pledges to invest $100,000 initially in the property. “More will no doubt be needed but we will do this in stages,” Derico said. The work would take place over three years.

The improvements would be funded by Valley Christian and a group of other area churches it is working with, along with financial services companies that provide financing for religious institutions, he said.

The pastor acknowledged the need for a grocery store in the area, as reflected in the preference for such a use expressed in the city’s request for proposals. The South Side neighborhood had been without a full-service grocer for years when Bottom Dollar Food opened.

“We believe we can bring more than groceries,” he remarked.

A representative of Big Dipper Food declined to discuss the company’s proposal when contacted Wednesday.

Big Dipper, 50 Superior St., makes peanut brittle and peanut brittle popcorn, according to its website.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.