Schumer puts out the call for a downtown Syracuse supermarket

Jul 3, 2014

As the number of people living downtown continues to grow, so does the need for a grocery store in the neighborhood. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., says he can help lure one to the central business district.

Schumer says the heads of major chains will listen to him. He's reaching out to a number of chains, like Tops and Whole Foods, to try to convince them to locate downtown.

Many officials and residents say that as the neighborhood become more residential, a place to buy groceries is needed.

"And this is not a ridiculous idea," Schumer said Wednesday. "Not only are residents clamoring for it, but the economics show we’ve reached the tipping point and it could be viable."

Downtown Syracuse’s population just topped 3,000, officials say. Downtown developer Bob Doucette says what’s kept store away so far, is the numbers.

"I do think it’s possible to succeed in downtown," he said, "but it’s somebody taking the first step; it’s a bit of a risk."

A private grocery store lasted for a few years downtown but went out of business in 2010, before the area’s residential boom. The Syracuse Real Food Co-op, in the University Area neighborhood, has expressed interest in opening a second location downtown.

Officials point out that the potential clientele for a market stretches beyond just the residential population, as thousand more work downtown.

"An area that was once a place to clock in and clock out, is now home to thousands of people and has a vibrant neighborhood scene, Schumer said. "But even with all this exciting residential growth downtown, residents, when you ask them, ‘what’s missing here?’ They would almost universally say a supermarket."

Schumer says it’s no longer acceptable that downtown doesn’t have a major supermarket.

It would take about a year from commitment to grand opening for a grocer, developers said. They say there are several potential locations a store could go.