Friday, September 25, 2009

Hope in the Shape of a Supermaket?

Central Avenue is Dreaming

Today, at the corner of Central and 20 Street, it can arguably be said that "hope" is having a grand opening but under the name of "Superior Grocers." This $27.5 million development will cover 45,000 square feet of retail space and 85 affordable-housing apartments. The large development is the first full-scale market to open up in that area in over 5 years. Many argue that this is a sign of "hope" and revitalization for the community. Not only will the market offer a large amount of fresh produce, something that the surrounding community has always struggled to find, but it will also supply local residents with 130 full-time positions. The opening of such a large development will definitely have an effect on how the local residents view their community especially because it will supply the community with vital resources.

Superior's research showed that they would have a potential market of 440,000 people from the "dramatically underserved neighborhood." Although the opening of such a huge development WILL create opportunities and have a positive effect on the community, we must not forget that this "dramatically underserved neighborhood" has existed for decades and the research conducted on behalf of the company did not supply shocking new results. We must be critical of the fact that there are plenty of other large grocery chains in Los Angeles County, and even though that is the case, it is not until September 2009 that this community is supplied with such resources. Also, does this large supermarket pose a threat to small mom and pop shops? An even larger question to ask is, Can we look at this development as merely a positive addition to the community or is it gentrification at its best and are we all victims of it?

Our communities have been underserved, underepresented, and marginalized for decades and that is why now more than ever, every bit of change that comes their way cannot simply be taken for face value. We must all be critical of not only the positive effects these changes and developments will have but also of the negative ones. More importantly, we must ask why did it take so long for these needs to be addressed, is it being done in the best interest of the community or in the best interest of the third parties involved?

These are just questions to think about. Overall, the development and opening of this Superior seems to be heading in a positive direction and we shall hope that it remains that way.


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