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Columbus Seeking Bloomingfoods To Fill Need As Urban Grocer

Front of Bloomingfoods east store

(WFIU/WTIU News)

Columbus is hoping Bloomingfoods will come to the city’s downtown. The city is working with developer Flaherty & Collins to build a $39 million mixed-use building with 200 apartments, parking, and retail space.

Mayor Jim Lienhoop says the need for an urban grocer was identified a couple years ago in a planning process called 'Envision Columbus.'

“They represent a little bit different slice of the market than say a Kroger or Walmart. And I think that that would be well received here in Columbus. Plus, provide healthy choices for those people who live within walking distance,” Lienhoop said.

The location just east of the county jail is vacant. Most of the land has been given  to the city by Irwin-Sweeney-Miller interests.

Rendering of what an urban grocer would look like in Columbus
Early rendering of what an urban grocer could look like in Columbus. (Envision Columbus)

Bloomingfoods Marketing Manager Nicholas Blewett says they’ve been in conversations on the new project for about a year but still have more work to do.

“We're in a pretty good state, where we're in a strong position to be able to even take a look at opportunities like this and consider them," Blewett said.

He says the co-op is coming out of the pandemic stronger than it was heading into it. He says the store has less traffic but shoppers are buying more.

Lienhoop says the city will contribute the land and around $2 million, along with proceeds from a $10 million bond. Bond repayment will come from property tax that the project generates. The city hopes the project will more or less finance itself.

Construction on the project won’t start before March of 2022.

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