Planned grocery store will ease ‘hardship’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

When she heard that a grocery store might be moving back into her neighborhood, Audrey Ralph was excited.

She said she couldn’t count the number of times over the past couple years since the Be-Lo Food Store on Carolina Road closed its doors that she was cooking something and needed a single ingredient. Instead of dashing the quarter mile around the corner from her Greenfield Crescent townhouse, she had to drive 2.5 miles and battle N. Main Street traffic to go to Wal-Mart to get what she needed.

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&uot;I think it will be good,&uot; Ralph said. &uot;I believe it’s been a real hardship on the entire neighborhood.&uot;

The owners of Old Town Market on Marshall Avenue in Newport News have leased the building and have been remodeling over the past few weeks.

According to Larry Nix of Old Town Market, the new store will be a farmer’s market/grocery store called Joe’s Farmer’s Market.

Nix, who lives in Suffolk, will manage the store.

He said the store’s concentration will be on meat and that there will be an old fashioned meat counter along with a large Fresh meat case.

&uot;Well also have hot lunches and check cashing,&uot; Nix said. &uot;We’re going to be doing a little bit of everything out there.

Nix said he figured many people south of downtown feel like Ralph and he hopes Joe’s will fill a void in the community.

&uot;I showed them,&uot; Nix said, referring to his Old Town Market associates. &uot;Here’s this building out there and the people don’t really have any place to go and we said ‘Hey, let’s go for it. Let’s see what we can do for the community.’&uot;

The store operators have been working with the Department of Neighborhood Development Services on permitting. Director David Freeman said Monday he expects the store to be an asset for the community. He noted that the new occupants are adjusting to signage to conform with the Unified Development Ordinance; sidewalks are being installed; some landscaping is being done and the dumpster is going to be concealed.

The thing’s been a big blight,&uot; Freeman said of the building. &uot;It really looks good.&uot;