The first grocery store in years to open on Dodson Avenue in July
There's big news for East Chattanooga where a new grocery store is set to open in a couple of months.
This will be the first grocery store in the area in several years.
While the idea has been discussed for a while, leaders said on Tuesday it was a combination of new leadership, new property owner and change in economic development incentives that helped make the Save-A-Lot a reality in East Chattanooga.
"It's like we've been living in a food desert forever," Janette Richie said.
Richie has lived in the area for 20 years and said without a grocery store, or a car, it's hard getting the food she needs to eat.
"Walk down to the corner and catch a bus. Come downtown. When I get downtown, I transfer from the number 10 bus to the number 4 bus and go to Walmart in Brainerd," she said. "And when I come back home, I got all those bags to tote."
But in a couple of months, that all will change for those like Richie.
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke announced Tuesday Chaudry Ali bought the once condemned building on Dodson Avenue and invested more than $2-million in renovations to bring in a Save-A-Lot.
The store is something District 9 Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod, who represents the area, said is positive for the community.
"We had grocery stores that didn't amount to much of nothing. It pretty much was just a space that was here and the building was very dilapidated and the food wasn't all that great. But now we have an opportunity to change that trajectory," she added.
The Industrial Development Board approved Monday a $30,000 grant to support the effort.
Berke said the money comes from economic development fees collected from big business PILOT agreements.
"We take that money and roll it, a piece of that money, roll it into this Renewing Chattanooga account. That money is then used to incent smaller businesses," Berke added.
New sidewalks and parking lots are also in the works for the area, turning Richie's bus rides for groceries into a walk that's just a couple of blocks away.
"I won't have to do that anymore, so that's a good thing," she said.
The Save-A-Lot is expected to open at the end of July.
It will employ 14 people.
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