|Untagged||6 Jun 2012|
|Still Waiting for Groceries by allegheny|
"..the project could drag on for years." This is a quote from Policy Brief Volume 8, Number 62 from late 2008, nearly four years ago, referring to two proposals to build a grocery store in the Hill District-an area that had been without one for about thirty years. The first proposal was from Save-A-Lot-which has a record of success in low-income neighborhoods-to build a $4.5 million limited service grocery store. The second proposal was for a super grocery as part of a $24 million development. Needless to say the community group in charge of the development chose the latter. Nearly four years later construction on the long awaited store has not even begun.
As part of a community agreement package entered into with the City, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, representatives of the Hill District, and the Pittsburgh Penguins, $2 million in seed money was made available to assist in the building. So what has happened since the larger development was chosen?
Originally, Kuhn's market agreed to participate but withdrew from the project and a Shop ‘n Save owner stepped in. The scale of the project was also reduced to $8.5 million (as of 2010). In addition to the $2 million in seed money ($1 million from the team and the URA), the State has pledged another $1 million, the County $750,000, and the URA will also donate the land worth $500,000. The grocer will put in $1 million and other funding was to come from local foundations.
The public funding means two things: first it must be built using prevailing wages, which can increase the cost anywhere from 10 to 30 percent and the project will strive to achieve a "green" rating which will drive costs even higher.
And as of early June 2012, nearly four years since the original announcement, there is no grocery store in sight. One possible reason is difficulty in rounding out the necessary financing. The newspaper account mentions that the site has bulldozers sitting on mounds of dirt. This episode highlights the problem with government directed development. They tend to overbuild and overpromise and drag the process on and on. If the private sector were allowed to operate, the residents of the Hill may have a smaller more limited grocery, but they would have one and its success could spur other development-all without taxpayer subsidies.