Thursday, December 24, 2009
The St. Louis based grocery store chain Save-A-Lot says it is still willing to build a store in The Hill District if the deal is right. Nearly a year ago the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority, with the guidance of Hill District leaders, chose a proposal from Pittsburgh based Kuhn’s Markets to open a store in the Hill over a proposal by the Landmarks Community Capital Corporation and Save-A-Lot. Driving the decision was a desire to land what is known as a “full service” grocery store with amenities such as a deli and a bakery. Save-A-Lot does not offer those amenities. Last month Kuhn’s dropped its plans to open the store. Save-A-Lot Vice President for Development Rick Meyer says they are waiting for an invitation from the city to try again and they feel they can make it work financially where others who have pulled out saw an anemic market or “trade area.” He says they are looking for an “intense” market rather than a large market. Meyer says the soft economy actually makes their business model, which offers groceries at 20-40% discounts, work better than it did two years ago when the process began. He says Save-A-Lot still needs the million dollars offered by the URA and the million dollars offered by the Penguins to make the deal work. Meyers says, “Deals rise and fall on the details and we will have to see how it all works out.” Meyer says the chain has opened several corporate owned stores in urban areas in the least year including stores in New Orleans and Philadelphia. The chain has 1,200 stores in 39 states. Meyers says 20-25% of them are in urban areas so they know they can make the model work in the Hill District.