After 23 years without a grocery store, residents on Binghamton’s North Side will finally get some relief.
Mayor Richard David announced Thursday that plans are underway for a new grocery to open in Canal Plaza by the fall of 2020.
The new store, yet to be named, will be operated by the Council of Churches in cooperation with Your Bargain Grocer, a “social purpose” grocery that has operated in Utica for the past decade.
The Binghamton store will be modeled after the Utica store, and by using the same producers and distributors, the Binghamton location will also be able to sell groceries at lower costs than traditional chain groceries.
“You don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” David said. “You’ve got a perfectly good model in place, that not only are we duplicating, we’re working with the team of people that initiated this in Utica and utilizing their exact same suppliers.”
Funding for the store has come from a number of community groups, as well as $150,000 from the City of Binghamton and another $150,000 in grant funding obtained by state Sen. Fred Akshar.
“Our community remains strong because we all work together to address the needs of our neighbors,” Akshar said.
Profits from the store will be used to support other services provided by the Council of Churches, such as CHOW and Broome Bounty, which address food insecurity in the area. The store will also have a “zero food waste policy.”
Residents on the North Side have been without a fully operational grocery since the Grand Union left in 1996.
The new store will be in Canal Plaza, formerly the Big Lots plaza, as one of the ground-floor commercial tenants in the $20 million mixed-use housing development set to open in 2020. The project will also house the The Council of Churches, as well as 48 affordable-income apartments.
Construction costs for the store will be incorporated in with the Canal Plaza grant.
In 2014, the city’s plans to bring a store called Grocery City Market to the same plaza never came to fruition.
“There have been false starts on other grocery store projects over the course of several decades,” David said. “I didn’t want to have another one of them. We didn’t want to announce this until we have all the funding in place, and leases and other documents signed, which have now been signed.”
Since then, the city has implemented a number of different plans to connect North Side residents with fresh food. The CHOW Bus brings fresh foods to the neighborhood, and the city offers a grocery store shuttle to and from the North Side.
The area’s convenience stores, gas stations, Family Dollar and CVS do offer a limited selection of food but cannot offer the same selection of fresh meat and produce that a full grocery can.
“We are excited about the opportunity to open a grocery store on the North Side of Binghamton,” said Joseph Sellpack, executive director of the Broome County Council of Churches. “This is a game changer for residents who need access to affordable foods. It is yet another avenue to help us put a stop to hunger in our area.”
When complete, the store will be 5,083 square feet, offering shoppers fresh fruits, vegetables and meats, as well as a selection of frozen foods and dry goods. The store is expected to hire North Side residents as its managers and eight part-time employees.
“We’re about grabbing the bull by the horns and taking on these tough challenges and figuring out a way to advance very complex projects, to take them off the drawing board and make them a reality,” David said.