Former Ukrop’s executive plans grocery store in North Church Hill

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RICHMOND, Va. – The plan to provide a grocery store within an East End food desert moved forward one step with the submission of a rezoning application.

The city announced that grocery operator Jim’s Local Market will be the anchor for a neighborhood retail development at the northern corners of the Nine Mile Road and North 25th Street intersection in Richmond’s North Church Hill neighborhood. The majority of the land is owned by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

Jim Scanlon, president of Jim’s Local Market, has nearly 40 years of grocery store experience through Ukrop’s, and most recently as regional vice president for Martin's Food Markets.

Scanlon said he is ready to build upon the success of their recent grocery store opening in Newport News.

“We believe we have a business model that’s right for urban areas like the East End of Richmond – combining quality products, affordability for all customers, and a level of employee engagement that creates a culture of great customer service,” Scanlon said.

“Seeing what Jim has done in Newport News, and seeing the commitment the City, Housing Authority, and so many community partners are willing to contribute to the East End, has convinced me that this is the right thing to do,” said Steve Markel, senior member of the private team implementing the development.

Related: Community members react to possiblity of local market coming to North Church Hill

Markel visited the Newport News location and "witnessed the community pride in the new store opening" and chose Scanlon as the operator for the project, according to the mayor's press secretary Tammy Hawley

The Newport News market opened on May 10. According to the Daily Press, Scanlon hired nearly 60 people from the community -- for some, their first job, the city says -- where the store is situated. Like many in the East End community, the closest store for the Newport News neighborhood was miles away, and many residents were without vehicles. From some parts of the neighborhood, a bus ride to The Market on Main Street required a bus transfer.

A grocery store at this location has been needed for many years, especially with the closure of Community Pride in 2004. The conceptual discussion and most recent efforts began in earnest in 2011 during the East End Initiative planning process attended by the Mayor, Dr. Newbille, Bon Secours Heath System, RRHA, and members of the community.

“I have heard members of the community asking for a full-service grocery store in this area,” said Councilperson Dr. Cynthia Newbille.  “And that is what is being proposed for the East End community.

Newbille and the development team plan to meet with neighbors to answer questions about the development and potential neighborhood impacts as soon as possible.

The zoning application made Monday, May 16, is the beginning of a months-long approval process and is the first of several steps that must occur before construction could begin.  Design and layout of the grocery site and for accompanying mixed-use development is still in development.

“I am thrilled that this proposal is finally advancing,” said Mayor Jones. “The East End food desert has needed healthy groceries and good jobs for a long time, and I hope that success here can be replicated in other neighborhoods across the city.”