If that question elicited a groan and eye roll, wait. It’s not what you think.
After the Market at Hartford 21 closed its doors after only six months of operation back in 2011, any mention of another grocery has shown just how disappointed residents felt by that whole experience.
If interested parties gain support from the City of Hartford, it is possible that downtown Hartford could have what Steve Borla calls a full-service supermarket offering “culturally” and “demographically-appropriate foods.”
Borla, the Director of Consumer Credit and Policy Initiatives for the Hartford Community Loan Fund, says this supermarket would be for “Hartford residents,” 28,000 of whom live in a food desert, according to the Hartford Food System.
Right now, the Hartford Community Loan Fund and Hartford Food System are working with a yet-to-be-named large, regional supermarket chain which has experience selling healthy food in urban areas. The full-service supermarket aims to create 150-200 new jobs in Hartford; the store operator has been identified as someone who is committed to hiring city residents.
Besides job creation, having a centrally-located, 50,000 square foot supermarket would bring money back into Hartford. Data supplied by the HCLF and Hartford Food System shows that our residents spend approximately $40 million in supermarkets outside of the city. Developing a supermarket in the desired location would recapture 50-75% of what these organizations are calling “food-buying ‘leakage.’”
Where is this location?
Downtown North– roughly north of I-84 and east of Main Street.
If the organizations are given the green light by the City, the next step would be to identify a developer. From then, it could take 2-3 years for development of the market to reach completion. The favored 10-11 parcels are City-controlled, vacant properties; at a glance, it seems there would be no obstacles in waving this forward. But, in recent days one of these potential sites has been identified as a possible location for UConn when it moves its West Hartford branch to Downtown.
A meeting between the HCLF, Mayor, and other key players is set for mid-April.