Makeover for Linwood: “a big bite out of the food desert”

untitled-(8-of-15)Officials today announced the planned redevelopment of the Linwood Shopping Center, including a large new grocery store.

Mayor Sly James said the $12 million project represents progress for the east side and rebirth for a historical corner that is “an intricate thread of the entire community.”

The St. Joseph Hospital once stood at the site at 31st  and Prospect. Then the popular shopping center went in but deteriorated over the years as redevelopment efforts failed.

“Today we announce the end of the wait,” James said.

The project will include a Sun Fresh grocery store to open by summer 2016, a façade makeover for it and the center shops, a new roof and  environmental features.

The grocery store, James said, “will take a big bite out of the food desert area that has existed here for a long time.”

John Lipari of Lipari Brothers Sun Fresh Market, an affiliate of Associated Wholesale Grocers, will operate the grocery store.

“They’re going to have the best produce,” Lipari said, “they’re going to have the best meat department, everything you can possibly want.”

City Manager Troy Schulte said the city used innovative financing for the project. It will buy the shopping center for $950,000 and the remaining $11 million in renovation and construction comes with a wide array of tax breaks.

He said the city will then own the center, which will be operated at his own risk by developer Donald Maxwell.

Schulte said the project meshes with a range of development efforts along Troost and east of it.

Troost has shifted away from its old status as a racial dividing line, he said.

The question now, Schulte said, is “how do we keep moving the dividing line east, east, east, until we reach 435.”

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