Community leaders and politicians have been fighting for nearly 30 years to bring a full-service grocery store back to the Hill District. It appears they have finally won.
Ground was officially broken this morning for the 36-thousand square foot Heldman Plaza on Center Ave across from the Hill House. When it opens in November its main tenant will be a full service Shop ‘n Save grocery.
Some politicians have described the neighborhood as a “food desert.” Residents either have to travel to other parts of the city to get groceries or shop at expensive convenience stores. Despite the physical size of the potential market, time after time investors and developers have investigated and passed on opportunities to open a grocery store in the Hill.
Pittsburgh City Councilman Daniel Lavelle says it took a partnership to get to this point and there will need to be a new kind a partnership moving forward. “I want to stress to you that once this Shop ‘n Save is built, that we, the community, are going to vigorously shop at Shop ‘n Save,” said Lavelle.
State Representative Jake Wheatley echoed Lavelle’s thoughts, “Rise or fall, this will be ours. We need to take ownership of it. We need to honor it because this store is symbolic of our community and how we treat it and how we let others treat it is an example of what we will take from us.”
Funding for the building comes from federal and local government grants, the Penguins and various local foundations. A $1.5 million commercial loan was secured this morning to finish off the financing.
Shop ‘n Save owner and operator Jeff Ross says the Hill is a very different place than it was in the past and he is confident that with community support he will be able to keep the store open.