(Plain Press, November 2016) About 20 residents gathered at the new Caribe Bake Shop at 2906 Fulton on October 25th to discuss a proposal by Dollar General to build a new store on the Southwest Corner of Fulton and Walton.
Richard Roberto, a representative of CG Buchalter of Birmingham, Alabama, a company that builds stores to lease to Dollar General, said the proposed Dollar General Store would be 7,500 square feet and employ 8- 10 people with full benefits and paid vacation. He said purchase of the property and building the store would be a $1.3 million investment in the community. He said Dollar General sells general household items and groceries. He said groceries generally represented 38% of sales.
Ward 14 Councilman Brian Cummins and staff of the Metro West Community Development Office noted that some of the parcels required for the project are currently zoned as two-family and would have to be rezoned as general retail to allow the project to go forward. Cummins and the staff of Metro West asked for community input on this zoning change.
A number of residents pointed out that there were already a number of stores in the community offering a similar range of products for sale. They noted the Family Dollar currently at 2704 Clark Avenue and the new one going up at W. 65th and Clark. They noted that Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Tony’s Market on Clark Avenue also sold similar items as the proposed Dollar General. Several residents mentioned that another Family Dollar was scheduled to open in the former Aldi’s on W. 25th in the Brooklyn Centre neighborhood.
Roberto responded that the demand in the neighborhood for this type of store was very high saying that the Family Dollar on Clark Avenue had very high sales.
Hispanic Alliance Executive Director Juan Molina Crespo wondered if there was a need for the store. He noted that with the increased housing costs in the nearby Tremont, Ohio City and Detroit Shoreway neighborhoods, people were looking to the Clark Fulton neighborhood for affordable housing. He wondered if the parcels would be put to better use as a site for affordable housing.
Several people expressed concern that if the store was abandoned after the 15-year lease expired that the community would be left with an ugly big box store. Councilman Cummins and staff of Metro West indicated that the Design Review Committee, meeting on October 26th, would be the place to advocate for better design of the building. Molina Crespo urged that, if the building is allowed, its design fit with the plans for the La Villa Hispaña.
A representative of Alive Church, which hopes to sell to the parcels to be used for the Dollar General, said that there have been no purchasers of the property for years. He said the property taxes are a considerable burden for the congregation. The church, whose original building was taken for the new Max Hayes High School, has now relocated to the West Park neighborhood and no longer wants the site.