City Council Explores What Grocers Need To Thrive In South Dallas – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Hoping the New Year will bring relief to South Dallas’ long-standing food deserts, a city council committee met with the Texas Retailers Association on Monday to get a general overview of how grocers decide where to put their stores.

It’s 2022, and Dallas continues to strive to provide its southerners with access to fresh, quality groceries, especially south of Interstate 30.

“It’s really shameful, but that’s how it is. We are who we are,” City Councilor Carolyn King Arnold said at the Economic Development Committee meeting on Monday afternoon.

A “Save U More” in the Highland Hills neighborhood is empty after being closed despite millions of dollars in city grants.

Councilor Tennell Atkins, chairman of the committee, said he understands what private businesses like grocery stores look for when looking to grow.

“They are looking for density. They are looking for the population, the income. The good quality of life, ”said Atkins.

Atkins said companies are also, of course, looking at whether or not they can make a profit.

In South Dallas, Atkins highlighted improving area schools, improving infrastructure like the Red Bird Mall, as well as tackling crime and building new housing.

“I think we need to educate the citizens in the southern part of Dallas,” Atkins said. “We have all this population, why don’t the grocery stores come? “

Atkins asked the Texas Retailers Association to explain what grocers need to decide on a new location.

“It’s a business,” TRA consultant Gary Huddleston told the committee. “We want to serve the community, but we still have to make a profit. “

Huddleston explained that a standard 60,000 square foot supermarket represents an investment of about $ 15 million.

Businesses rely heavily on sales models, he told board members. The models detail the number of customers, future sales and profitability.

Large grocers also envision a changing industry, from higher construction costs and on-site security to a shift to online shopping during the pandemic.

Huddleston told board members he hasn’t seen “huge” long-term success when grocers only get tax breaks.

“It’s great when a city or county gives tax relief, but it’s for the short term,” said Huddleston. “Once that money is gone, they still have to work. “

The consultant suggested that cities like Dallas consider cutting red tape instead.

“Many times, [companies] bring plans to planning and zoning and they think they’ve got a deal and they come back and get a call, “Oh no, we’ve got to make a change,” Huddleston said as an example. “If they could have one person, a top city official, to help them get through everything in the city, it would save a lot of cost and time.”

It’s also worth considering, said Huddleston, by eliminating some fees that grocers have to pay.

“Health service charges, SNAP charges, WIC charges, beer and wine, cigarette charges,” he said. “All of that and maybe there are ways to look at the model and cut the cost of the fee.” This would help to perpetuate the store.

As for residents desperate for a local grocery store, Huddleston asked for patience and to provide supermarkets with feedback.

Atkins said the committee will review TRA’s presentation and then create a plan in the hopes of attracting a quality grocer to South Dallas this year.


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