Residents of Greenville’s Westside may soon be shopping for groceries in their own neighborhood.
Following a comprehensive plan focused on transportation, housing and economic development in the area, the city recognized a need for an affordable Westside grocery store, spearheading a subsequent marketing analysis and public meeting.
The Greenville Westside Comprehensive Plan is part of Connections for Sustainability, a multiphase $1.8 million federal planning project that included a citywide housing strategy and transit feasibility study.
Upon the completion of the planning process, Connections for Sustainability added a marketing analysis to determine the feasibility and possible locations of a grocery store in the Westside, said community planner Wayne Leftwich. Although the examination contained a variety of principal topics covering demographic segmentation, economic sector, and geographic studies, the analysis focused on the area’s need for a grocery store.
Bob Lewis, principal at Development Strategies in St. Louis, presented the results of the marketing analysis at a public meeting in Greenville last week and answered questions from residents of the city’s Westside neighborhoods.
Public comments centered on the likely timeframe of a grocery store being built in the area and the preservation of its established homes and residents.
Westside resident Wanda Jackson said the lack of transportation in the poorer neighborhoods demands the construction of a grocery store immediately.
Joshua Blankenship, a homeowner on Pendleton Street, said the addition of an affordable grocery store would be the beginning of positive economic development and stable growth in the area, as long as its current residents and homes were maintained.
Lewis said residents must apply pressure on the city’s economic and planning departments with petitions, letters of support and input at public hearings.
“A grocery store will not be added to the Westside without the strong support of its people, and the pressure is on the community to market themselves to possible grocers,” he said.
The marketing analysis focused on three Westside neighborhoods: Southernside, the West End and West Greenville.
Of the 651 businesses located on the Westside of Greenville, only five stores containing some manner of grocery inventory are within the study area, Lewis said.
A Kash & Karry is inside West Greenville, while a Handee Mart and a Spinx gas station sit along its borders, he said. A Family Dollar and a Citgo border the West End, but the Southernside neighborhood is without any form of grocery outlet.
As highlighted by the study, urban neighborhoods or rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable foods are in a food desert, and the majority of residents living in the Westside do not have access to these foods. Defined by a lack of supermarkets and grocery stores, a food desert can exist in an area with no food access or served only by fast-food restaurants and convenience stores.
Leftwich said the City of Greenville would use the final results of the marketing analysis to recruit a grocery store to the Westside.
“Although there is no current timeframe for a grocery store being built, we have taken the first steps with this study,” he said.