After years of studying the issue – New York City has embarked on a groundbreaking approach to grocery store development in under served neighborhoods. Following, in part, the model advocated by The Food Trust, a Philadelphia-based non-profit that was able to secure state financing for a grocery store initiative, the City of New York will be combining both regulatory and financial incentives with the goal of attracting fifteen grocery stores in ten years. The New York Times recently posted a piece in the City Room Section…“City Promotes Grocery Store Development”
What’s also exciting is that there are new models for smaller format grocery stores that may be poised to take advantage of this opportunity, including Fresh & Easy, a 14,000 sf grocery store format being spearheaded by British-based Tesco. While they are primarily on the West Coast…they have been looking to expand. Other potential smaller format concepts include Giant Express, currently testing a 13,500 sf format in Pittsburgh. They join regional grocery store chains and franchises in New York, including Trade Fair, Met Foods, C Town, and Gristedes. The biggest question is whether the combined incentives and zoning will be enough to lower occupancy costs so that stores can turn a profit. Hey, if incentives and zoning don’t do it…maybe the weak market will help compensate.