With Downtown Syracuse filling up, officials renew push for full-service grocery store

Many says it is what's missing in downtown Syracuse. Now, there is another strong push to get a full-service grocery store to set up shop in downtown Syracuse.

For the thousands of people who live downtown, finding groceries in their neighborhood is a challenge. Many are forced to drive to find fresh food to fill their fridge. "It's literally the first question out of a renter's mouth is where do I buy my food?" said developer Bob Doucette.

It is something many of them have pushed for for years. With more and more people making downtown their home, there is a new effort to get a full-service supermarket to move in. "This coming year, we're slated to welcome 340 new residents to downtown, so this rapidly growing downtown population is creating an opportunity for users like a full service grocery market to come," said Merike Treier of the Downtown Committee.

In a personal pitch to the CEO's of several top grocery stores, Senator Charles Schumer is making the case that a new store could be a shot in the arm to the area and highly profitable. He is reaching out to the heads of Whole Foods, Tops and The Fresh Market, urging them to bring a store to Armory Square. "Residents when you ask them what's missing here, they would almost universally say a supermarket. They don't want to have to get in their cars and drive miles away," Senator Schumer said.

Over the last three years, the residential population has grown by 31 percent. Downtown has a 99 percent occupancy rate with nearly 3,000 people now calling the apartments and condos home. Some 30,000 work downtown each day, and 15 new companies have decided to locate here in the last year alone. "I do think it would create a level of urban experience that we don't have now and it just might tip the balance for somebody who's thinking about coming," Doucette said.

So could a supermarket really be profitable downtown? Schumer estimates they would generate $2.5 million a year in sales. It is yet another voice making the case that a full-service grocery store should be in the bag for Syracuse.

This pitch has worked before. In Rochester, Hart's Grocers opened a store in the downtown core, the first in the area in two decades. There could be grants and loans available to make it happen here in Syracuse.

We reached out to the three grocery stores Schumer is pitching the idea to, hoping to find out what it would take to get them to set up shop in downtown Syracuse.

Whole Foods, which just opened a location in Albany, calls Syracuse an opportunity and says they would take the offer seriously.

Tops told us they recently opened two new stores in Syracuse and have a deep commitment to the community. "Although there are no current plans in place for an additional store in the Syracuse area, we are always looking for opportunities to serve our neighbors and if presented with the right location and opportunity we would, of course consider a new location in the City of Syracuse," said Katie McKenna, a Tops' spokesperson.

As of this afternoon, we have not heard back from The Fresh Market about whether they would consider moving downtown.

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