ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — After nearly two years of planning efforts from community members and county leaders to end a food desert in downtown Albany’s South End, the area will soon have a local grocery store.

Many South End residents need to walk over a mile or take a bus to buy food. However, that will all change come Spring when the old McDonald’s building on the corner of South Pearl Street will transform into a non-profit-owned grocery store. 

It all began with a vision from Trayvon Jackson, Executive Director of the African American Cultural Center. He saw a solution to the current food desert while peering out of the center’s window to the corner of Madison and South Pearl Street.

“I am thoroughly excited to tell you that a grocery store is coming to the South End of Albany, New York,” Jackson announced. “I’m humbled because I’m filled with raucous joy, pure excitement, tears of happiness.”

Trayvon credited persistence, hard work, and the right partners for making it happen. The African American Cultural Center now owns the old McDonald’s building through donations by private investors and efforts by the Albany County Legislature. County Executive Dan McCoy said the addition is long overdue.

“We talk about the inequities that have happened in the city of Albany and throughout the county. In downtown Albany, where you have so many great new apartments going on, new vibe going on, news businesses coming in, you walk right down the street, there’s no place to go to get fresh food,” McCoy said.

Through the celebration and the flag-raising, Trayvon wanted to remind the community that this victory isn’t the end.

“Changes here are immeasurable, and I expect exponential change to the positive in this neighborhood over the next five to 10 years as a result of the work here today,” Jackson said.

Jackson added that the building will go through interior gut renovations and the roof is set to be replaced. The community grocery store is slated to open in April or May.