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      Syracuse south side neighbors hopeful for new grocery store

      The former Valley Plaza P&C store sits empty. / photo: Brandon Roth

      There is no shortage of available space at Valley Plaza on Syracuse's south side. The loss of the P&C grocery store two years ago has left a hole in the middle of the neighborhood, one the city would very much like to fill. Now comes word that Tops Friendly Markets wants to step in and fill that hole.

      Ben Walsh, Syracuse's Deputy Commissioner of Development, says since P&C left, south side residents have had to travel more than two miles to get to the nearest market - Green Hills Market. Walsh says having Tops open a full service market at the site would provide a much needed economic boost to the area.

      "Getting a full service store into Valley Plaza, and particularly Tops, is no pun intended a top priority for Mayor Miner and the city administration," he says.

      But before Tops can open a store at the former P&C site, the developer who owns the plaza wants a tax break from the city.

      Ellicott Development Company is seeking a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement. Tops is also looking for grant money from the state. Walsh says the PILOT deal being considered by the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA) is a win-win, since the city would not lose any of its current property tax revenue on the site.

      "We're always going to receive at least what we are receiving now, but we are hopeful with the improvements it will benefit everyone down the line," says Walsh.

      Ellicott Development Company, out of Buffalo, was founded in 1973 by former New York governor candidate Carl Paladino.

      Youlanda Johnson owns a beauty supply business across the street from Valley Plaza. She says there is no doubt her business would benefit if Tops were to open a full service market in the neighborhood.

      "We've been over here for seven years. When P&C left it definitely took away a lot of business, so I definitely think it would be a great asset for the community," she says.

      SIDA plans to hold a public hearing on the proposal at its meeting next month.