Silverman Planning a Downtown Grocery Store

It looks like a grocery store is coming downtown, Seth Rosen writes in the Daily Progress. Developer Gabe Silverman has long wanted to bring a grocery store downtown, and now the BAR has approved some changes to his 2,400 sq. ft. space on the corner of 5th and Main that would allow him to do just that. There’s no word as to what chain, if any, would be setting up shop there.

The A&N at that location closed in January of last year, despite Silverman’s best efforts to retain them. A&N is, interestingly, a Virginia business, founded in Richmond right after the Civil War.

25 Responses to “Silverman Planning a Downtown Grocery Store”

  • I just hope it’s a place where you can go in and buy a can of franks & beans or other common staples at a reasonable price and not another one of these haughty nouveau-riche “Whole Food”-esque places that only sell esoteric exorbitantly priced “free-range” edibles.

  • Things like Grocery Stores are often exactly what is missing from most of the “neighborhood models”. In my opinion, you can’t have a real neighborhood unless you can walk down the street and buy a Gallon of milk.

    Another thing I feel the downtown area needs is a permanant farmers market like they have in Roanoke and some other cities. People talk about supporting our own farmers and agriculture, but we should ask ourselves if we’re really doing enough help them bring their products to the local community. Plus, I’ve never seen a town with a permanant market where it wasn’t a focal point of the community.

  • This does not mean a grocery store is opening downtown. This just means that some property owners have an empty building and they’d like a grocery store to move into it. Remember Lee Danielson’s rendering of the re-done dt mall with the Banana Republic storefront?

    Anyway, at 2400 sq feet it would be more the size of Blue Ridge Country Store than Giant (which the DP mentions).

  • I think you’re going to be in the minority there “Mean n Taters.”
    A fancy pants store could probably make it in that space–a glorified convenience store not so much.
    The Lucky 7 on Market St. probably stocks franks & beans, though.

  • Thanks for the referral Dave. Maybe I’ll see you in there. But I said at a “reasonable price”.

  • I thought Charlie Kabbash owned that space? Wasn’t there a sign in there that said to call him about leasing it? Is Gabe buying the property back or what?

  • I wonder where the Trader Joe’s talk came from. Great store, great food, prices that Meat ‘n Taters would like- but 2400 sf is a tiny space.

  • Yeah, with the Blue Ridge Country Store like .. what, 50 yards away? That’s going to be some interesting competition.

  • It would be great to see a market move into that space, but it does seem too small. Downtown really needs a normal sized, full grocery store, which would have a parking lot. If we could have a small market on the mall AND a grocery store 1 or 2 blocks away, that would be the ideal situation.

    Trader Joes seems like such a perfect fit for downtown, what do we have to do to convince them? Apparently, a petition drive a couple of years ago failed.

  • A Trader Joes would fit nicely in that space. As a former resident of L.A. I’ve seen them in some pretty tight spaces. Trader Joes works because they have the Whole Foods feel with Foodlion prices.

  • The actual article in the Daily Progress provides insight on several of the comments above.
    The Country Store and the new market could probably have a better chance of surviving if the new one tries to be complimentary to the existing one and not its competitor, similar to the restaurants Mousetrap and TJ’s.

  • Franks and beans at CVS, though probably not cheap. In the atrium of the Omni is a micro-sized convenience store that not too many people seem to know about. More chocolates than beans. Same newspapers. The other downtown fud store is Mkt. St. Wine Shop. More chocolates, bread, little things in jars, etc., only free newspapers! Gets pretty busy after 5 with people mini-grocery shopping.

    If Gabe thinks a food store would work there maybe he’s right. Seems like a small population lives close by enough to walk with the goods, or would be willing to park in a garage. The daytime population is sizable, maybe thats what he’s thinking. Like the purple bldg. on W. Main.

    The best place for a downtown grocery store with parking would be where it used to be, now Staples (hey, they sell food too!), or East Market past Lucky 7 or Garrett St. area. I feel bad harping on parking. Hey his Amtrak station project coulda been a super market. That would be a heck of a place for a snazzy grocery store.

  • There’s already a grocery store downtown: Reid’s. And it’s not a bad grocery store, either. They also stock a surprising number of things for vegetarians, and local produce, and ethnic foods.

  • OH MY GOD downtown needs a grocery real real bad. I myself have chosen not to live there every time I move because it does not have a good grocery store. I know there’s Reid’s, but come on, Reid’s sucks. It is an oversized, dirty convenience store. It is a small version of the IGA that used to be our central eyesore.

    Why the hell didn’t a good grocery store replace that IGA? We need a Food Lion/Kroger/Piggly Wiggly where Staples is now. That would make downtown effin poifect.

    The A&N space would be great for a grocery store…if they added a 2nd floor. AND it needs to be open 24hours people. What the heck is wrong with the downtown CVS closing so early in the only place in town apart from the Corner where there is a concentration of people after 9pm? If you ask them they roll their eyes and get cranky and say “we’ll get robbed.” Well that’s just dumb, yall. If there are 10 businesses in the same block that are open until midnight or 2am, then you do not have to worry about being a target for robbery. Why would they choose you over Atomic Burrito or Zocalo? At least stay open until 2am so I can pick up some condoms after last call!

  • Yeah Reid’s is pretty much downtown. I’d like to see a downtown mall extension plow over Old Preston, the Omni parking lot and through the lot between Wendy’s and MacDonald’s, where the state employment office is.

  • Charlottesville is dumb. People think they’re so awesome and transit-friendly and shiite, but the number 1 way to keep people making ecologically painful short trips is to put a grocery store near their neighborhood. And the whole of downtown is not served by a proper grocery store. The whole south part of town is underserved by grocery stores. Somebody put a freakin Ukrops downtown or I’m gonna scream!

  • Years ago there was an A&P near where the Vinegar Hill Theater is, but it folded. Same way with the assortment of grocery stores that went in where Staples is. The IGA wasn’t bad but what followed was awful.
    Years ago there was a Safeway on West Main St, adjacent to Westhaven, and a Reid’s a block up toward the Corner.
    Now we have no Safeways,I always regarded them as a high-quality store.
    It does seem grocery stores downtown have a poor track record for lasting. Fact is, the chains seem to prefer shopping centers and strip malls.So I doubt if a major chain will go in the A&N building.
    I don’t know anything about Trader Joe’s, except that people who are familiar with it say its great.
    The point about “franks and beans” is well-taken. Since Woolworth’s closed, there is really no place to get “practical”,inexpensive household items Downtown. CVS comes closest. Lucky Seven is pricey-personally like the JoyFood on High St for snacks,soda,beer, etc, but their selection is limited.
    Gourmet shops and boutiques and all that are nice, but having a place to buy a pair of socks,or garden gloves,or underwear,or a watering can for the garden would be nice too. Nothin’ fancy, just practical.

  • Did anyone read that article other than me?

  • Baron is quite right; Reid’s is pleasant and well-stocked, and a business that’s been part of Charlottesville for several decades now.

    I want to re-emphasize this because discussions about City grocery shopping consistently ignore the possibility of an independent locally-owned store in favor of the same old question; “How can we convince a national chain to do something they’ve already decided isn’t in the interest of their stockholders?”

    I hope the redoubtable Mr. Silverman considers this point in connection with his plans. I realize that opening a small independent grocery business is a pretty daunting challenge, and I don’t know myself where a candidate could be found, but I hope the possibility isn’t overlooked in a rush to secure another chain store.

    To “SamanthaSnacks”:

    “Reid’s sucks. It is an oversized, dirty convenience store.”

    What nonsense! Reid’s is a perfectly nice, small, locally-owned grocery store with an excellent butcher counter. It’s exactly the kind of place that “Meat ‘n Taters” requires. It’s exactly the kind of place that Downtown can use more of. I myself shop there, but I also shop at Silverman’s West Main Market, IY, Cherry Ave IGA, and Foods of All Nations. A diversity of locally-owned merchants is the best condition for the City’s economy, not more large chain stores.

    “Somebody put a freakin Ukrops downtown or I’m gonna scream!”

    Go right ahead. It’ll make you feel better. But it’s not a very helpful analysis of the situation.

  • SamanthaSnacks is worried about buying condoms after the bars close and is interested in Ukrop’s, a store that doesn’t sell alcohol? Go figure.

  • We need a Food Lion/Kroger/Piggly Wiggly where Staples is now.

    Years ago there was an A&P near where the Vinegar Hill Theater is, but it folded. Same way with the assortment of grocery stores that went in where Staples is.

    When I was a kid in Cville (late 70’s early 80’s) there was an A&P where the Staples is now. What it turned into after that, but before it became Staples, I’ve no clue about. Of course at the same time there was also a Reids location actually “on” the mall in addition to the one on Preston.

    Now we have no Safeways,I always regarded them as a high-quality store.

    Safeway was a union store and the Union wage demands at the time priced them out of this market. Everyone was going to the new and cheaper Foodlion.

    Wikipedia also had this nice little factioid about Safeway:

    In January 2006, Dateline NBC conducted a grocery store investigation of ten of the largest grocery stores in the nation, and found Safeway to be the most hazardous grocery store, with 25 critical violations per each ten visits. The company reported to NBC that “Safeway has ‘continued to enhance and re-energize store adherence to our food safety and sanitation standards.'”

    Gourmet shops and boutiques and all that are nice, but having a place to buy a pair of socks,or garden gloves,or underwear,or a watering can for the garden would be nice too.

    They all disappeared because the current crowd that shops downtown didn’t support them. They voted with their dollars for the frou-frou gourmet shops and boutiques.

  • T wish for a small seafood market exactly like the one which used to be at the Omni end of the mall. A black owned business , it was far out in selection and service – as in “we`ll steam and spice your shrimp if you want”.

    It followed the other black businesses from Vinegar Hill to God knows where. Another City project – sheeesh.

  • And then there was Inge’s Market, across from the bus station where Awful Arthur’s is now. A black-owned business,and one that carried delicous local produce, like homegrown tomatos.I think it survived into the 80s.

  • Yes, other downtown grocery stores have come and gone. So what? Lack of customers is not the only reason businesses fail. That IGA failed because it sucked.

    Some good spots for downtown grocery stores:
    *Where Staples currently is
    *Where the bombed out building on the IX property is
    *the big empty field next to Garret Square (keep the crop area, though)
    *All that empty space next to Amtrak
    *that big empty space on Main next to U-Haul

    Make it happen! Make that A&N space into multiple floors. Grocery stores without parking lots is not a weird concept. Where I moved from had a lot of them. Make it 24 hours.

    There also needs to be a grocery store within walking distance of Grounds. Ideal spot would be on Fontaine past Piedmont. Another spot: get rid of that fake pond next to the Curry School and put a grocery store there. Tear down that old frat house on Maury and put an Albertson’s there. That’d be awesome.

    Forget what I said earlier about Ukrop’s. They’re closed on Sundays and that sux.

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