Many See Need For North Tulsa Grocery Store

Friday, July 17th 2009, 7:56 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A new plan to open a grocery store could do more than help feed north Tulsa, it could transform health and help the economy, too. The former Albertsons could reopen under a new name by Thanksgiving.  Neighborhood leader Mike Reed has high expectations for the new store.

"We're just hoping that this one has longevity and supports the community, has good produce, and provides jobs and I think our community will be a little healthier as well," said Mike Reed with the Lacy Park Task Force.

The Albertsons was open for five years and then closed two years ago as the grocery chain pulled out of Tulsa.  It left a significant section of Tulsa without a close by, full service grocery store.

07/16/2009 Related Story: Grocery Store Looking At North Tulsa Location

There are plenty of grocery stores just outside and on the edges of north Tulsa, but the larger stores are generally further away.    A new store, in the old location, could bring back the larger selection of higher quality food than what's available now in the area.

Sara Waggoner, of the Community Food Bank, says that's a huge difference for people in north Tulsa.

"If they have transportation, they're going further, it's taking them longer.  If they don't have transportation, they're paying for a ride or paying someone to take them," said Sara Waggoner with the Community Food Bank.

Waggoner says it also leads to people buying higher cost, low quality food at convenience stores.

"At some point they're going to show up at an emergency food pantry because they're food money is going to run out," said Sara Waggoner with the Community Food Bank.

Even while the Albertsons building sat empty, other nearby stores flourished, proving there's a base of customers with money to spend.

For Mike Reed, the new store is another step towards turning around the neighborhood.

"There's a lot of good things happening with this project and we're looking for it to spur other growth patterns in the community," said Mike Reed with the Lacy Park Task Force.

A major milestone in the deal to reopen the store was on Thursday night with the Tulsa City Council's approval of a government backed loan for $2.2 million to the still undisclosed buyer.

The Tulsa City Council was told the store could open within months.