Oasis in a food desert finally has groundbreaking

07/31/2013 7:30 AM

07/31/2013 7:30 AM

Nothing has come easy during the nine years that Kansas City residents and city officials have been trying to bring an oasis to the food desert surrounding 39th Street and Prospect Avenue.

Even Tuesday’s formal groundbreaking for a new Aldi grocery store was held in a driving rainstorm.

But after all the delays, bureaucratic hurdles and economic challenges, supporters weren’t going to let a little wet weather and mud stop the celebration.

“Although there is rain, I believe that God showers blessings,” said 3rd District City Councilman Jermaine Reed, a prime mover behind the project.

The quest for a decent market may seem strange to suburbanites, who can have two upscale groceries across the street from each other in affluent neighborhoods. But that’s not the case in a large swath of Kansas City’s central city.

Reed said the Aldi store will mean residents in surrounding neighborhoods finally can buy healthy fruits, vegetables and meat instead of having to rely on nearby convenience stores or on driving as far as Independence to shop.

The 16,850-square-foot grocery store is expected to open late this year and employ about 15 people.

Aldi has pledged to provide the same fresh produce, meats and other grocery items at the same prices as its stores in Johnson County, Blue Springs and elsewhere in the metro area, said Mark Bersted, Aldi regional vice president. Because of its proximity to a church, the store will not sell liquor.