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Grocery access to improve for one Syracuse neighborhood

Ivy Dawned

Grocery shopping will soon be easier for residents of one south side Syracuse neighborhood.  The announcement of a new grocery store in the Valley Plaza solves one problem, but others still exist in Syracuse when it comes to the access to affordable food.

There will be one less food desert in Syracuse by the end of the year.  That's when TOPS is expected to open a new grocery store in the Valley Plaza on South Salina Street in Syracuse.  It's been three years since the P & C moved out of that location.

Common Councilor Helen Hudson says the new store will offer affordable and healthy food to at least one inner city neighborhood.

"This solves some of the problem. There is still more work to be done, but this here is a victory," said Hudson.

Food deserts are areas without access to affordable, fresh food.

"When you talk about leaving the Valley Plaza area and moving over to the South Avenue area, that's a whole different geographical area," said Hudson. "Wouldn't it be nice if we could have more than one store throughout all these areas? Then that would satisfy the food desert."

The next focus will be on a north side neighborhood in Syracuse, left without a grocery store when Wegmans closed down its Pond Street store June 30.  Residents of that neighborhood say they are waiting to hear later this week whether Wegmans will accept  any offers from other grocers for the store.  Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is optimistic.

"You have seen Wegmans make the right decision for the community.  But if they don't do that on Pond Street, my administration is committed to finding a store for that neighborhood," said the mayor.

TOPS is opening the store with the help of a $275,000 state economic development grant. One hundred people will be hired to to work at the store, in what TOPS CEO Frank Curci calls an underserved market.

"The thing that we look for is groups of people not served well by the supermarket industry, and we feel there is an opportunity here to have a vibrant store," said Curci.

The TOPS is expected to open in November.