The last thing the Old Northeast needs is a vacant building.
That’s why new development at Independence Ave. & Monroe is drawing mixed feelings.
“A lot of folks in the neighborhood were hoping we’d get a grocery store there,” President of the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association Bryan Stalder said.
A deed restriction prevents a new grocery store from moving in where the old Apple Market and Mi Mercado used to be. A community improvement district along Independence stipulates no liquor stores or gas stations. So, the 35,000 square-foot space will soon house a Family Dollar, a nail salon, and an ice cream shop, with three other vacant spots.
The first tenants are scheduled to move in by the first of the year.
Other ideas include a pet store and a pizza place.
“We want to provide services for the neighbors that they can utilize,” Developer Chuck Cuda said.
Cuda met with the Northeast Alliance Together (NEAT) to talk about what neighbors would support.
“I think that just the fact that we’ve got development going in over there is a good thing,” Stalder said.
Many Northeast residents are frustrated they’re getting yet another dollar store when there are already five other dollar stores within a mile of the development in every direction.
41 Action News drove around and counted four Family Dollar stores and one Dollar General within that area.
Cuda said he understands those concerns, but there’s a strategy.
“That’s not really filling a need, but it was kind of a catalyst to get this project going. The activity they’re going to generate is what’s going to help us lease those small shop spaces, to bring in what the community does need,” Cuda said.
Other neighbors say they rely on dollar stores because they’re affordable, and many neighbors are low-income. Many folks don’t want to walk a mile to a dollar store when they could walk down the street.
“The new one they’re thinking about bringing in would help the neighborhood down there where they’re at,” resident John Diaz said.
The neighborhood associations, united underneath NEAT, say they’ll work with Cuda to make sure locally-owned businesses will move into the remaining vacant spots.
“I think as we make advancements and attract growth over here, we have to do it in a measured way so that we’re not gentrifying the area too quickly or displacing folks,” Stalder said. “Not necessarily trying to recreate Northeast as much as build Northeast up.”
NEAT will meet again with Cuda to discuss the leftover sign in the parking lot so that it meets overlay regulations.