Possible new grocery store would fix North Charleston food desert

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — Fresh food has not been available in parts of the city of North Charleston for more than 10 years, but that’s could soon change. The city council finance committee is looking over a $3.3 million proposal to build a whole new plaza in the Chicora Cherokee neighborhood, and it would include a grocery store.

Fresh produce is something many people take for granted, but in the Chicora Cherokee neighborhood, finding fresh food isn’t so easy.

One resident, Sarah Blackshield, says, “I can’t get around good and they don’t want you on the bus with your groceries, so we have a struggle most of the old people, senior citizens, have trouble trying to get the groceries home because the cab costs $21-$30 to get in the cab to bring your groceries home.”

The neighborhood used to have a Winn-Dixie, but back in 2005 the company pulled out of South Carolina altogether. Now, the closest grocery stores are at least two miles away, classifying the area as a food desert.

North Charleston Spokesman, Ryan Johnson, says, “It’s essential for people to have access to fresh foods, fresh meats, and a full grocery store. Right now a lot of people have to rely on corner stores and convenience stores which certainly have their purpose, but it limits what you can do for fresh, healthy foods.”

The city of North Charleston has had trouble luring grocery stores to the empty Shipwatch Square.

Johnson says, “Grocery stores tend to look at demographics of the area. There’s higher rental rate in the southern end of the city than other areas, they aren’t as mobile, a lot of them require the bus to get around, or they walk. So some of those aspects were always negatives for other grocery stores.”

But now, one developer wants to purchase the land and promises to put a grocery store in the new shopping plaza.

Blackshield says, “I am excited. I wish they would hurry up and get it done so we have somewhere to go get groceries.”

No word yet on which grocery store would be included in the plaza. If the proposal passes the finance committee, it will go before the full city council for a vote. If all goes well, the developer wants to break ground in early 2017.

The proposal for a grocery store at Shipwatch Square passed the finance committee. The proposal will now go to the Charleston City Council for a full vote.

If all goes well, the developer wants to break ground in early 2017.

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