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The Grocery Store in Armory Square—Yes!

The Grocery Store in Armory Square—Yes!

Senator Charles Schumer held a press conference in Syracuse recently where he said “It’s no longer acceptable that we don’t have a major supermarket” in Armory Square.

We couldn’t agree more.

As the Senator said, there are numerous studies that show mixed residential and business neighborhoods make cities thrive. A grocery store is absolutely necessary given the growing number of residents moving into downtown Syracuse. Mixing in more types of businesses will only improve the fabric of downtown, and a livable neighborhood has to provide residents healthy food options to complement the bars and restaurants that currently dominate downtown.

This is the next logical step. Armory Square has a bakery, a chocolate shop, and 3 coffee shops. It’s time for a larger grocery store that sells fruits and vegetables, and staples like detergent and paper towels.

The good Senator said he would contact the CEO’s of  Tops, Whole Foods, and The Fresh Market. That’s a good start, to which we’d add Green Hills, Wegmans and Trader Joe’s.

Mayor Stephanie Miner expressed concerned about locating a grocery in the neighborhood without adding parking spaces, but we think that’s based on a faulty premise.

A downtown grocery store shouldn’t be configured like a suburban center where people go to “stock up” on supplies. It should be built for a different rhythm and style of shopping.

Downtown apartments don’t have huge pantries and closets to store bulk items— downtown shoppers make smaller but more frequent trips. They want fresh fruit and flowers, but also a mix of raw and prepared foods.

With that in mind, here are our top 3 picks for where the Armory Square grocery should go.

1. Creekwalk Commons. The site is close to the Walton and Fayette St apartments, as well as to Syracuse University’s Warehouse. It has a good access road (Water Street) for deliveries that won’t snarl traffic, and a nearby parking garage for employees, but the two most important points are that the site is currently under construction and could be quickly configured at a much lower cost than starting a new renovation. More, it will have a large customer base living in the apartments above the store, and working across the street at the NiMo building.

2. One Lincoln Center. The ground floor of the Chase Building has seen many community exhibits, and the large glass windows are a natural display case. There would be some issues with re-configuring the space for retail shopping, but siting the grocery here would certainly lend visual excitement to the area. Being right across the street from the Pike Block would make for a nearby customer base as well.

3. 307 S. Clinton. The space currently occupied by SU’s XL Gallery is the smallest of our possible sites, but that would give the store the feel of a New York bodega; points for atmosphere. We’re concerned about delivery truck access and a big enough place to support multiple shoppers, but the closer you get to the heart of Armory Square’s bars and restaurants, the tighter space gets.

What do you think? If you have other ideas, or if you really like our options, please let us know at editor@livablecny.com. We are firmly behind the idea of making all our downtowns more livable, and a grocery store is an absolute requirement. We strongly urge the Mayor and the Senator to keep pushing for it.

And maybe a hardware store too.

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