Some are calling it a rebirth of the Edgerton and Maplewood neighborhoods in the City of Rochester. A Price Rite grocery store is scheduled to open in the location of the former Wegmans grocery store on Driving Park Avenue.
“Hopefully in the early part of 2008 we're going to have a full-service grocery store,” says Mayor Bob Duffy.
Duffy announced plans for the new store on Wednesday. The City sold the property to two developers, Peter Lutz and Dale Scuddy, for $425,000. The developers then marketed the spot to Price Rite. The money from the sale will go directly back to helping the neighborhoods surrounding the store.
“That money is going to be turned around and used for this neighborhood,” says Duffy, “we are going to be establishing a fund for grants that will help businesses all through Edgerton and Maplewood.”
“We've been looking in the Rochester market for a long time for sites. We think this is a perfect fit for our format,” says Neil Duffy, president of Price Rite and of no relation to Rochester’s mayor.
Price Rite is the largest employer in New Jersey. The company operates low-cost food stores in urban areas throughout the Northeast. Price Rite is the largest cooperative supermarket in the nation with stores in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and New York. The Driving Park Price Rite store is the first store in upstate New York. The company made $9.6 billion dollars in revenue in 2007.
“Our intent is not to stop with one store in Rochester but to populate this area,” says Neil Duffy.
The company plans a $3 million renovation to the site before opening in early 2008. The new store will generate 100 jobs for the Edgerton and Maplewood neighborhoods.
“We know that a grocery store is a keystone element of healthy neighborhoods,” says Lois Geiss, City Council President.
Wegmans donated the building and land to the City of Rochester after the company closed its doors on the Driving Park location in April 2007. Wegmans closed due to a continuing loss of profit at the store. It was one of two remaining Wegmans within the City of Rochester’s limits.
The site is zoned for urban renewal, limiting what could be built to replace Wegmans. While a community center was heavily discussed, the community itself voiced the need for another grocery store.
“I wrote a letter to the mayor every single weeks for the last two months,” says long-time resident Virginia Sawdey who moved to the area in 1975.
“This was our community center. I could not come for a loaf of bread without it taking an hour,” says resident Karyn Herman.
“Some seniors you know, don't have cars and couldn't walk to a store so the nearest one is quite as few blocks away and across a busy street,” say Jim Maloney, also a long-standing resident.
Even though the building will be renovated, the PAC-TAC office connected to the building will remain. Mayor Duffy says there will be police patrols and a neighborhood watch system in place when the store opens in the first quarter of 2008.