BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A staple Birmingham neighborhood grocery store could get a nearly $1 million upgrade, if the city council signs off on new incentives.
Willie Speights, Market Manager at Village Market in East Lake, says the store has looked the same for the last 30 years - and it shows. If the city approves the $865,000 in funding, there will be changes to how it looks and what’s sold.
“New meat cases, new produce cases,” said Speights. “Upgrading in terms of what we carry as far as making it a little healthier.”
“We want to make sure we bring stability to that neighborhood in terms of what they have for a grocery store,” said Hunter Williams, City Council. Village Market is located in his district.
During Monday’s budget meeting, the city approved up to $850,000 in support of the project. The initial incentive payment of $200,000 will be paid from the city’s Healthy Food Fund, which provides resources to eliminate food deserts in Birmingham. The future incentive payments will be paid annually from Project Sales Tax Revenue.
“The total amount may seem like a large amount of money. It is not being given upfront. It is being distributed over the course of a five year period," said Williams.
Williams says the city looked to invest in Village Market because of its significance in the community. He says a large population in the area are elderly and don’t have easy access to transportation. The Village Market is centrally located. He says the city also wanted to invest in what was already established because it may be harder to recruit.
“The best available option for the neighborhood would be to keep the Village Market open and a large box retailer would not find that area suitable,” said Williams. “Larger box stores have different parameter on where they will and will not set up.”
In addition to cosmetic upgrades and more food availability, the store could also get additional security.
Speights believes the store expansion could mean more jobs available. If the work is approved, he doesn’t anticipate the store closing during construction work. He believes the work will be done at night.
The vote is expected to go before the full council at their next meeting.