Politics

Deadline Extended to March 2 for Bottom Dollar Site

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The city has extended the deadline another 30 says for proposals to reopen the former Bottom Dollar Food store on Glenwood Avenue, the director of community planning and economic development said Monday.

No proposals were submitted for the vacant building by noon yesterday. So the city issued a news release announcing the extension until noon March 2.

Bottom Dollar Food, a subsidiary of Delhaize Group, opened the Glenwood Avenue store and two others in the city in February 2012. Aldi Inc. purchased Bottom Dollar Food in December 2014 and closed the three outlets.

Last year, Aldi gave the building and property to Youngstown, ironic because the city had given the site to Bottom Dollar Food to develop the grocery store. Upon formally taking repossession, the city issued a request for proposals, with a preference to an entity interested in operating a full-service grocery store there.

The one-story, 18,000-square-foot building was constructed in 2011.

“It’s disappointing to say the least,” said T. Sharon Woodberry, director of community planning and economic development. Based on the inquiries received, Woodberry said she had anticipated responses.

She could not say why there were no responses. One factor, she suggested, was Aldi taking the coolers, shelves, cash registers and other assets when it closed the store. Had they been left, interest in the building might have been higher.

“I don’t know what’s missing, what they’re looking for,” Woodberry remarked.

“Significant costs and barriers” are associated with opening a grocery store, including land acquisition, financing, construction and workforce development, said Joe Ewing, director of government relations and communications for the Ohio Grocers Association.

“Not to mention the average profit margin for a grocery store stands at a mere 1.0% at last calculation, which makes it increasingly difficult for our businesses to stay afloat,” Ewing noted.

Follow-up calls will be made to the parties that had expressed an interest, Woodberry said, to gauge how serious they might be. “We may open it up in terms of being more aggressive with something other than a grocery store,” she added.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.