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Schumer: Armory Square needs a supermarket

By Eric Reinhardt


U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.) today announced his push to encourage CEOs of supermarket chains to consider adding a location in Syracuse’s Armory Square. (Photo by Eric Reinhardt)

SYRACUSE — U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.) is making a pitch to the CEOs of Tops Markets, Whole Foods Market, and The Fresh Market to bring a supermarket to the Armory Square area of downtown Syracuse.

Schumer made his announcement in a Wednesday morning event at Syracuse’s Clinton Square fountain.

Tops, which is headquartered in the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville, already operates locations in Central New York; Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM) is headquartered in Austin, Texas and operates a store in Albany and several locations downstate, according to its website; and The Fresh Market (NASDAQ: TFM) is based in Greensboro, N.C. and has a store near Albany.

Schumer also indicated Rochester–based Wegmans, which operates stores across upstate New York, would also get a call.

Schumer announced he plans to make the case to supermarket CEOs that a new, major full-service grocery store would be a “major boost” to the area and be “highly profitable,” according to language his office used in a news release about the topic.

In his remarks this morning, Schumer noted that 30,000 employees have jobs at hundreds of different businesses in downtown Syracuse, which he said has had a “renaissance” with people of all ages living downtown.

“What the studies have shown is when you have a mixed commercial and residential downtown, both benefit,” he said.

Besides the higher residential population, Armory Square is also an entertainment district with retailers and restaurants.

“Residents, when you ask them, what’s missing here? They would almost universally say a supermarket,” Schumer contends.

The Democrat believes they don’t want to get in their cars and have to drive miles away to go to a supermarket.

Most economic-development experts will tell you that a supermarket is “key” to a neighborhood’s success, he added.

“It’s no longer acceptable that we don’t have a major supermarket here,” Schumer said.

A supermarket is something that local developer Robert Doucette has been pursuing for downtown Syracuse for “many many many” years, he said in his remarks at the same event.

“It really is a critical piece of what needs to happen here,” Doucette said.

Doucette is a cofounder and partner of Paramount Realty Group, LLC and president of Armory Development and Management.

Doucette is generally credited with spearheading the rebirth of the Armory Square area of downtown Syracuse.

When the Business Journal News Network asked what properties are available to support a downtown supermarket, Doucette replied, “There’s tons of spaces,” but wouldn’t be more specific.

Parking would be one of the “major issues” to contend with, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said in response to the question.

“We’d have to work with parking and make sure that we could have access to it in the kind of numbers that would make a grocer be able to move downtown,” Miner said.

Schumer’s news release on the topic included his letter to Walter Robb, CEO of Whole Foods Market, which recently expanded in the eastern part of the state.

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