SYRACUSE — As store employees completed preparations for the April 2 opening, Walter Dixie had a simple reaction to the new Price Rite store at 611 South Ave. in Syracuse. “It’s amazing,” says Dixie, executive director of the nonprofit Jubilee Homes of Syracuse, Inc. He spoke with CNYBJ on March 31 inside the store during a media tour of the new facility.
“I’m excited for all the folks in the community to have the opportunity to shop … [and] don’t have to rely on corner stores and high prices and outdated produce,” he adds. Price Rite had worked with Dixie, along with city, county, and state officials to bring the new store to an area designated as a “food desert, providing a service-oriented supermarket and serving as a retail anchor tenant along the South Avenue corridor,” the grocer said.
Food deserts are areas that “lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up a full and healthy diet,” per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 35,000-square-foot store employs nearly 100 people, the company said. “We carry about 5,000 items, compared to a traditional store that might carry about 40,000 items,” Josh Bartholomew, regional director of operations at Price Rite, said in speaking with reporters during the media tour. “The 5,000 items we carry are those top selling items that mean the most to our customer base.”
“We are pleased to announce the opening of our new Syracuse store on South Avenue, and we are privileged to be part of this community and all the great new development that is happening along the southwest corridor,” Neil Duffy, president of Price Rite, said in the company’s release. “Local residents have been waiting for a supermarket for a long time, and we look forward to becoming a vital part of the community…”
About two-thirds of current Price Rite grocery-store locations operate in buildings that had previously operated as supermarkets. “This was a supermarket, too,” Duffy told BJNN at a June 17, 2016, groundbreaking ceremony, referencing the building at 611 South Ave. where Commercial & Residential Painting, Inc. previously operated.
The building was once home to a Loblaws supermarket location that closed in 1970, according to Duffy. Commercial & Residential Painting now operates at 1426 Valley Drive in Syracuse.
VIP Structures handled the construction and design work on the $5.5 million project, Duffy said in the June 2016 interview.
To encourage Price Rite to build and operate a new grocery store on Syracuse’s south side, Empire State Development (ESD) offered up to $1.2 million in incentives that are tied to job-creation commitments, including 100 new full- and part- time jobs at the location, ESD said in a news release issued April 2.
During a formal-opening ceremony on April 2, Price Rite made a $3,000 donation to Sharon Owens, CEO of the Syracuse Model Neighborhood Facility Inc., in the name of the Southwest Community Center.
The Southwest Community Center is a nonprofit, multipurpose neighborhood center located a few blocks north of the Price Rite.