Council unanimously approves funding, tax incentives for grocery store in South East Lake
PRESS RELEASE Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Contact: Cody Owens
Eliminating food deserts has been a major focus for members of the Birmingham City Council. Major strides have been taken in the last year to make sure that all of the city’s residents have access to healthy food options.
On Tuesday, the Birmingham City Council authorized a contract in which the City will provide up to $865,000 to redevelop the Village Market located at 7737 2nd Avenue South. An initial payment of $200,000 will come from the City’s “Healthy Food Fund” with the remaining amount of up to $665,000 coming from future sales tax revenue over the next 10 years.
Roughly 69 percent of Birmingham’s residents live in USDA-designated food deserts, an issue that affects all nine districts. As a state, Alabama ranks in the top five with most dollar stores per capita, which are heavily saturated in low-income and majority-black communities.
On July 9, the Council unanimously passed an ordinance that limits the amount of dollar stores that can open within the boundaries of the new healthy food overlay district that encompasses a majority of the city.
The ordinance established overlay boundaries that will prevent new dollar stores from operating within one mile of an existing store. These discount stores offer little to no healthy food options and often prevent grocery stores from operating in a community because they divert customers and revenue.
The money allocated for redeveloping a grocery store in one of Birmingham’s underserved communities will go a long way toward providing healthy food options for residents, said Councilor Hunter Williams, who represents the district.
“We passed funding for the next ten years for that location, not only for renovations but to make sure they have the funding to be able to stay in our community for a long time,” Williams said. “We’re being very intentional about eliminating food deserts in our city and this is just another step in that direction.”
Willie Speights, who manages the Village Market, said he is dedicated to making sure residents have a place where they can buy fresh produce and foods.
“The store has been there for over 30 years,” Speights said. “We’re going to upgrade the store by changing all the cases out, which hasn’t ever been done, and make sure it’s a place that people want to come shop. The community has changed and we want to attract a younger customer base. I’m confident we’re moving in that direction.”