Grocery store will be built in Syracuse's 'food desert'

A new grocery store is set to open on Syracuse's south side.

The vacant lot on South Salina Street, near McKinley Avenue, will soon be transformed into a 3,000 square foot locally-owned cooperative grocery store. It will offer nutritious and affordable food from area farms and distributors.

Fredrick Sullivan says he has to walk a half mile to get groceries and doesn't have a big selection at the local marts. "It's a hike," he said. "I hope they stock healthier foods in there."

In the past, officials have declared Syracuse's south side a "food desert."

"It's going to be great right here," said Detra Huntley who takes the bus to the nearest grocery store.

The Southside Community Coalition and Syracuse University's South Side Initiative Office broke ground on the project Friday morning. It will cost more than $800,000 and is supported by a number of state and local grants plus private dollars.

"The South Side Food Cooperative exemplifies how partners from across the community can collaborate to make a real difference in the lives of city residents," said SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor.

"It will provide the community with a sense of hope and an outlook for the future," said Joseph Bryant, President of the Southside Community Coalition.

Community leaders say the co-op will also bring jobs to the area.

"A grocery store would be very, very nice for me, and the locals around here," said Connie Stewart who lives nearby.

Construction is expected to start immediately. The Co-op should be open by the end of 2012.