GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Joanna Bronicki loves downtown life. She works and lives in Grand Rapids' downtown.
"I've lived downtown for about three years now," said Bronicki, who works at Head over Heels Shoe Boutique on Monroe Center and lives just a few block away. "It's beautiful. It's very like Parisian lifestyle. Everything around here -- the restaurants, the food. ... It's very beautiful. It's very good."
Bronicki is part of long-predicted trend for downtown: Build places for people to live, and those residents will support downtown business growth.
But there is one thing missing for downtown dwellers -- a supermarket.
"I think that something like a Meijer, a Walmart. Something like a supermarket I think we could really use," Bronicki said. "I take my bus pass and I go outside to Alpine Meijer, Alpine Walmart. Those areas. So does take me an hour, maybe two hours total to get all my shopping done."
While the new store in Detroit is not downtown, it does show Meijer is interested in expanding its presence in urban areas. The company has always had stores within the Grand Rapids city limits, but none downtown.
24 Hour News 8 asked Meijer leaders if a downtown store is on the company's radar. Maybe someday, they said.
"It's about finding the right fit and the right unmet need," Meijer President J.K. Symancyk said.
24 Hour News 8 also reached out to Spartan stores, but did not hear back.
But there is a debate about the population that would shop at a downtown supermarket.
Grand Rapids city officials say right now, there's aren't enough people. Downtown Development Authority Director Kris Larson says the center city has about 3,300 residential units. That's 4,900 to 5,000 people.
But Larson says most grocery retailers look for a population of about 10,000 before they'll get serious about developing a store.
Larson says right now, it's just not economically realistic for a grocery chain to consider downtown.
Inner City Christian Federation President and CEO Jonathan Bradford, who been pushing to get a market, says the downtown extends to Heritage Hill, North Monroe and the area around Wealthy Street and Division Avenue, where the ICCF's proposed Tapestry Square would be built. That project includes space set aside for a 31,000 square foot grocery store.
Bradford says his organization's survey shows the number of people that need a market is well over the 10,000 mark.
Bradford says he's talked to a number of grocers. But so far, there haven't been any takers.
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