After years of failed negotiations, the Hill House Economic Development Corporation announced Wednesday July 7 that Shop ‘n Save owner Jeff Ross has signed an agreement to operate a new 29,500 square-foot store in the Hill District.
Despite near triple-digit temperatures, more than 100 Hill residents, corporate and political leaders, and project supporters met on the building site across Centre Avenue from the Hill House to celebrate the news.
“Hot or not, this is a huge day for the Hill District. This is the result of a lots of work, especially by the community coming together to focus on achieving this goal,” said. Hill House President and CEO Victor Roque. “I am pleased to announce that we have a signed agreement with Shop ‘n Save.”
Roque said he hopes to break ground in late summer or early fall, and the new store would open by November 2011.
Carl Redwood Jr., chair of the Hill Consensus Group, said of all the ideas that came out of various development initiatives a full-service grocery that served the community, not only by supplying fresh food, but also by employing residents at solid wages, was the most important.
“This will spur other development, and in turn new jobs,” he said. This is what the community fought for.”
|GROCERY STORE BECOMING A REALITY–Community leaders and elected officials stand in front of sign announcing the opening of a new Shop ‘n’ Save in the Hill District. Photo by Ashley G. Woodson
Jules Matthews, executive director for the Hill House EDC said the building would seek LEED energy efficiency certification and would feature a bakery, deli, dairy, meat and produce departments, as well as frozen foods and health and beauty aids.
Ross, who owns four other stores with his family; two in McKeesport, one in Mt. Pleasant and one in Connellsville, said he was pleased to have been chosen, and looks forward to serving the Hill District community.
“We have always been active community members in the neighborhoods we serve,” he said. “We plan on adding upwards of 100 new employees from the Hill neighborhood. We look forward to being an integral part of the Hill for years to come.”
Ross said he has invested roughly $1 million in the $9 million project, which also includes funding from state grants and foundations, as well as $1 million each from the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Club.
Ross said Local 23 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, who represent workers at his other stores, told him of the Hill opportunity after the Kuhns’ grocery chain bowed out.
They brought me to the table, and we sat down for six months and hammered it out,” he said.
“The past is past. I look at the Hill, at the Consol Energy Center, at the 28-acres, and from here to Oakland I see nothing but growth.”