Apple Street Market Cooperative Hoping to Fill One of Cincinnati’s Food Deserts

For the first time there are no grocery stores in College Hill, Northside or Clifton. At one time each neighborhood had their own store including a Kroger in College Hill, IGA in Clifton and Save-A-Lot in Northside.

When Save-A-Lot closed its Northside store in November 2013, however, it got the attention of the Cincinnati Union Coop Initiative (CUCI) and sparked an effort to open a community-owned grocery store in its place called Apple Street Market.

There is only one full-service grocery store within a three-mile driving distance from Northside – a Kroger on Mitchel Avenue. That Kroger, however, is not served by Metro’s #17 bus route, thus leaving carless households with only Metro’s #16 route as their option. The problem is that the #16 bus route does not run on Sundays and only runs every half-hour after 4pm.

“This makes a grocery trip an arduous and time consuming journey if you do not have a car,” said Casey Whitten-Amadon, legal counsel for Apple Street Market. “The trip can take more than three hours, in all types of inclement weather.”

It was the closing of the Save-A-Lot, however, that really sparked the effort to open a new community-owned grocery store in Northside.

“I knew that CUCI had been starting worker owned ventures. So, I approached them about a grocery store within the first week of Save-A-Lot closing,” said Heather Sturgill, a Northside resident and community advocate.

CUCI did a lot of searching to find the best fit for the new store. They were not specifically tied to Northside, but after surveying about four different neighborhoods, along with conducting market studies and market analysis for grocery stores, they found Northside to be the perfect fit. One of the key reasons for this, they say, is that Northside had an existing space that was in great shape and needed little to no demolition or remodeling.

This was important, and stands in contrast to the ongoing difficulties Clifton is having in trying to open their own cooperative grocery store on Ludlow Avenue, because they did not have the capital nor did they have a large investor that would finance the project.

This is particularly complicated by the financial model of union co-op businesses, where a large investor cannot have a larger share of the profit or a larger share of the governance rights. Rather, each person or entity that invests in the store gets an equal share and one vote regardless of the investment.

In the case of Apple Street Market, CUCI is accepting $100 or $10 from lower-income investors.

While raising the capital for a union coop startup can prove to be extremely difficult, Northside’s effort has been aided by a large number of enthusiastic volunteers that also set the community apart from others in the city.

While this collection of neighborhoods represents a relatively new and small food desert in Cincinnati, it comes at a time when many policy makers are looking to fix such problems.

“This is another reason that we decided to go ahead with the project in Northside,” said Whitten-Amadon. “The main benefit to community ownership is the opening of a unique store that is owned by the workers and the community.”

He also says that success and profitability will be shared by the community, and that being able to make decisions collectively will help create a sense of pride in the neighborhood store.

While community leaders are excited about the potential benefits for the community investors and workers, they are also looking forward to the local specialty items that will be stocked at Apple Street Market. Organizers say that the plan is to provide a larger than average organic and produce section, and sourcing much of it from Our Harvest – another area worker-owned business started by CUCI.

But Sturgill says that they will also be including up-and-coming brands to give the store an affordability that most health food cooperatives do not have.

“We tried to get fresh foods in some of the other corner type shops but the owners didn’t seem interested enough to follow through,” Sturgill told UrbanCincy. “This is intended to be the first in a chain of worker/community owned groceries.

A future additional location for this type of store, she says, could be in College Hill at the new development planned for North Bend Road and Hamilton Avenue.

An official opening date has not yet been set for Apple Street Market, but Sturgill says the goal is to have it completed by spring 2015. Those who are interested in providing funding and making an investment in the store can do so by buying a share online.

Month in Review – July 2014

The Banks and Dunnhumby Centre tower cranes In July, UrbanCincy reported on the future of the much-discussed Wasson Way corridor, and investigated the candidate that will most likely be chosen as Cincinnati’s next City Manager. We also opined on the need for a new first-class arena in the city.

Additionally, two of our most popular stories were photo updates: Jake Mecklenborg’s collection of photos from the Northside Fourth of July parade, and my gallery of residential construction projects in Downtown Cincinnati.

Check out our top five stories from July 2014:

    1. PHOTOS: 49 Shots from the 2014 Northside Fourth of July Parade
      Aside from being one of the most significant and well-attended parades in the region, the Northside Fourth of July Parade is also one of the more eclectic.
    2. KZF Releases Preliminary Designs, Cost Estimates for Wasson Way
      The 45-page study is the first detailed look at the corridor, which has been hotly debated and discussed over recent years. Much of the controversy has surrounded whether or not both light rail and a trail can be accommodated.
    3. EDITORIAL: It’s Time for Cincinnati to Build a New First-Class Arena
      Within a one-hour drive from Fountain Square there are eight arenas with a capacity of more than 9,000 people for their primary tenants. Of these, only three have been built or undergone major renovations since the year 2000.
    4. What Does Harry Black’s History Tell Us About His Capability of Managing City Hall?
      It has also been widely reported in the Baltimore and Richmond media that Black earned the nickname of being “the mayor’s bull dog” and “Baby Wilder” in reference to former Richmond mayor L. Douglas Wilder.
    5. PHOTOS: Construction Progressing on Thousands of New Downtown Residences
      Eleven new developments are expected to add about 1,500 new units of housing to the urban core.

 

PHOTOS: Northside Rock N’ Roll Carnival Complimented Independence Day Celebrations

The Northside Fourth of July Parade has been was of the region’s most popular for decades, but this year neighborhood leaders decided to build upon that success with the Northside Rock N’ Roll Carnival.

The three-day event took place at Hoffner Park and began on Thursday and concluded on Saturday night. It included stand-up comedy, live music, various carnival activities and even a BMX and skateboard competition.

Like the parade, the Northside Rock N’ Roll Carnival was put on by the Northside Business Association and sponsored by a number of local businesses including Spun Bicycles, CityBeat, Comet, CoSign, Gaslight Property, Happen, Inc., Milhaus Development, Mt. Carmel Brewing Company, Northside Tavern, N.Y.P.D. Pizza, and Shake It Records.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While this was the first official year for the carnival festivities, organizers say the three-day event is an extension of the festival that has been put on since the 1980s.

“The Rock ‘N Roll Carnival was initially dreamt up by Chris Schadler in 2005 then carved out, cleaned up and driven home by Leslie Scott & Chris in 2006,” organizers say on the festival’s website.

“The event has endured weather, economy and exhaustion and continues through the work and support of the Northside Business Association and numerous Northside residents and businesses for the sake of showcasing Cincinnati’s most independent neighborhood.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

EDITORIAL NOTE: All 57 photographs in these galleries were taken by Jake Mecklenborg for UrbanCincy between Thursday, July 3 and Saturday, July 5, 2014.

PHOTOS: 49 Shots from the 2014 Northside Fourth of July Parade

After the Northside Fourth of July Parade came back to life in 1970, it has served as an annual fixture in the neighborhood. Over the years the crowds have grown and the parade has become a must-stop for any politicians looking to win votes in the city.

While this was the 44th consecutive year for the parade, its history dates back to the middle of the 19th century when the St. Joseph Orphanage was completed.

Aside from being one of the most significant and well-attended parades in the region, the Northside Fourth of July Parade is also one of the more eclectic.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

EDITORIAL NOTE: All 49 photographs in this gallery were taken by Jake Mecklenborg on Friday, July 4, 2014.

Month in Review – May 2014

Three of UrbanCincy‘s top stories in May revolved around a few dramatic transformations taking place in the urban core. We took you on a Street View tour of some of the biggest transformations in the city, showed you photos of the Cincinnati Streetcar’s construction, and shared news about changes to the city’s oldest historic district. In case you missed them, enjoy UrbanCincy‘s most popular stories from May 2014:

    1. PHOTOS: Cincinnati’s Dramatic, Decade-Long Transformation Visualized
      While many of us can feel that a transformation has taken place in Cincinnati over the past decade, it can be difficult to visualize it. Thanks to new Google Street View capabilities we have done just that.
    2. EDITORIAL: What Cranley’s Clever Budget Means for Urbanists
      The rookie Mayor John Cranley has proposed his first budget. At first glance, it doesn’t look so bad. But after further review what most feared is in fact the sad reality.
    3. The Littlefield to Bring Craft Bourbon Bar to Northside This June
      A craft bourbon bar called The Littlefield will open in Northside next month. The approximately 400SF establishment, which will also include a large outdoor terrace, has been years in the making.
    4. Western & Southern Aiming to Alter Lytle Park Historic District Boundaries
      Western & Southern has long been rumored to be eyeing a location for a new high-rise office tower to consolidate their headquarters; and proposed changes to the Lytle Park Historic District may be setting up for exactly that.
    5. PHOTOS: Construction Activities for $133M Streetcar Project Move Southward
      Significant visual progress continues to be made on the $133M first phase of the Cincinnati Streetcar. Take a look at the progress and learn about a string of good news that may push forward the opening date.