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Youngstown Seeks Proposals for Former Bottom Dollar Sites - Vindicator

Only one businessman, a real-estate broker, toured the vacant former Bottom Dollar grocery store, 2649 Glenwood Ave., during a one-hour period allotted for tours Tuesday afternoon.

Jerome Williams, owner of Youngstown Realty Inc., who has been selling real estate here for 30 years, said he would want to handle the real-estate transaction for someone interested in buying that store and the two other former Bottom Dollar locations in Youngstown.

The city is requesting proposals from those interested in buying the 18,000-square-foot city-owned Glenwood Avenue building, with preference to be given to plans to reopen it as a grocery store.

“I think that we should network and try to sell all three, not one” of the former Bottom Dollar stores in the city, Williams said.

“Now, you’re selling a package. Now, if somebody’s coming from out of the area, now it’s more feasible for them to come to town and put three together,” he explained, adding that all three buildings are only a few years old.

Offering only one location “limits who may be your buyer,” he said.

The other former Bottom Dollars in Youngstown are the Mahoning Avenue and Meridian Road location, which is owned by a private landlord, and the Midlothian Boulevard location, which is owned by ALDI Inc.

“We can only work with what we have control over,” said T. Sharon Woodberry, the city’s director of community planning and economic development.

“This is something that we felt was important to the neighborhood,” to reopen as a full-service grocery store, Woodberry said of the Glenwood location.

The Glenwood store, which was built on a 5.1-acre site in 2011 and has been unused since January 2015, has no shelving, coolers, freezers, counters or cash registers.

However, Sean McKinney, city buildings and grounds commissioner, said the store’s plumbing, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, electrical, security and fire-alarm systems remain intact.

Williams and Woodberry said they did not know what it would cost to re-shelve and re-equip the building as a full-service grocery store.

Woodberry attributed the lack of grocers showing up for Tuesday’s tour to their having had other priorities during the holiday season.

Another opportunity to tour the premises will take place from 3 to 4 p.m. Jan. 19.

Woodberry said the city also is willing to show the store to a prospective buyer by appointment.

There is no established minimum purchase price, and Woodberry said the city could sell the property at a below-market price.

The city also could offer a loan, requiring only a quarter-percent down payment and a bank’s letter of credit, which could be used to pay for re-shelving and re-equipping the store, Woodberry said.

The city also could help a new grocery-store operator apply for federal Healthy Foods Initiative loans or grants for urban grocers, she said.

A real-estate tax abatement could be offered only if new construction occurs on the site, she added.

The Ohio Grocers’ Association has agreed to communicate the city’s request for proposals for the store to the association’s membership, Woodberry said.

The city will accept proposals for the building in its finance department until noon Feb. 1.

ALDI Inc., which acquired 66 former Bottom Dollar stores, including this one, turned the Glenwood Avenue store over to the city last year.

Mayor John A. McNally recently said he wants to see a full-service grocery store, not a convenience store, in the Glenwood Avenue location.

The Fosterville neighborhood around the store remains a food desert without a grocery store, according to Sarah Lown, public finance manager at the Western Reserve Port Authority and a former economic-development specialist for the city.

“It’s very important for folks in the neighborhood to be able to get access to fresh and healthy foods,” said Jack Daugherty, neighborhood stabilization director with the nearby Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., an urban-revitalization organization.

Average daily traffic counts near the store are 10,080 vehicles on Glenwood Avenue, 9,210 on Canfield Road and 5,360 on West Indianola Avenue.

“There is definitely some market potential here,” Daugherty said of the store’s potential customer base.

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