Tops in Valley Plaza gets funding, South Ave grocery on hold

A grant's in the works that should let the old P&C in Valley Plaza reopen as Tops

There's a lot of excitement around Valley Plaza, on word that the last funding issue is resolved, and a new Tops Supermarket should open there, next year. Rose Tremont, a resident of the Bernardine apartments behind the plaza, is thrilled that she'll be able to walk to the store, since she no longer has a car. Jacque Escobar, a customer at one of the handful of stores in the near empty plaza, says it will mean other nearby residents won't have to use the bus to get groceries at Green Hills in Nedrow. She also hopes the supermarket will attract other businesses to Valley Plaza.

SIDA, Syracuse's Industrial Development Agency, approved a $275-thousand dollar grant to Tops at its Tuesday meeting. SIDA director Bill Ryan the state has to approve diverting the money from another grant whose purpose fell through, and there will be a public hearing before the final vote at the mid-December SIDA meeting.

Renovations have already started at the former P&C off South Salina Street, in Valley Plaza. The project has been a priority for Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, and the company that owns the plaza is getting over a half million dollars in tax breaks, including a lower property tax rate for seven years and a waiver on the mortgage recording tax, plus a tax exemption on construction materials. In addition to the grant approved today, Tops is getting a $100-thousand dollar sales tax exemption, and will also receive subsidy money from a 'healthy eating' foundation. The new supermarket, which Tops calls a '2012 project' is expected to employ 82.

At the same time, backers of another grocery store project say they're 'a little discouraged' at the latest news on their efforts.On Syracuse's southwest side, Jubilee Supermarket has bought an empty store at 601 South Avenue, and submitted a proposal for funding to the Regional Economic Development Council. On Monday, that group announced the projects it was backing for state money, and Jubilee was not on the list.

"We are disappointed that no one saw the value of us," says Jubilee Homes' Walter Dixie. "I'm sure they had a lot of applications. But, when it comes to the black and brown folk, I need to say it in this way, and if we don't do it, who's gonna come in our neighborhoods and do it for us?" Dixie showed us four thousand applications for shoppers club cards for the new supermarket, signs of support even though it's not off the ground yet. He says the supermarket would be on the tax rolls, which should help the city in challenging budget times, and would provide around 60 jobs with a living wage. "We felt that we was a slam dunk," he told us, but he's not giving up. There will be an appeal to the Lieutenant Governor, possibly as early as next week, to add Jubilee back into Central New York's proposals.