ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — After over two years of planning by 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, with a grand opening planned by this December.
Behind the painted outdoor murals, there’s lots of broken glass and hard workers trying to rebuild this former McDonald’s into a grocery store in time for their soft opening on this weekend during Juneteenth. There are still many interior and exterior renovations underway, but the doors will be open on Saturday so people can fill out job applications and membership forms. Some will even receive free bags of produce.
“This project is first and foremost about meeting basic needs at the lowest possible cost,” said Travon T. Jackson, Executive Director of the African American Cultural Center.
Shoppers can expect to see brand new countertops, colorful murals, and soon, shelves of fresh produce to be sold at the brand new, non-profit-owned South End Grocery Store on Pearl Street. Organizers intend to use a system that lets shoppers spend very little out of pocket. It all began with Jackson’s vision.
“The produce will be discounted at this point based on your zip code and your neighborhood,” said Travon. “We will have a very precise idea of just how much of a discount we’re providing. And just as much of a discount is necessary for this neighborhood to be eye-to-eye within equal and fair opportunities to provide food to their families.”
Travon says it takes hard work, and the right partners including county leaders, local food pantries, and other businesses and organizations including Albany Artisans, to help restore the vacant building. Travon says the feedback from the community has been nothing but supportive. “There are many, many, many, many if not all the people that I talk to commenting on this project and ready for it to be here. Ready for themselves and their families to see the progress that we have made so far.”