The owners of West Salem Shopping Center are poised to collect more than $700,000 from Winston-Salem to help pay for new sidewalk and parking lot improvements, as well as building renovations for a grocery co-op business.
The Finance Committee of the Winston-Salem City Council on Monday recommended that Academy Inc., the owner of the shopping center, get loans totaling $735,130 from a city program designed to revitalize urban commercial areas that have been in decline.
Hubbard Realty president Bruce Hubbard is president of Academy Inc. The city program is called Revitalizing Urban Commercial Areas, or RUCA for short.
City officials said that a nonprofit group called SHARE Cooperative plans to operate a retail grocery store called Harvest Market in the shopping center.
The Rev. Willard Bass, one of the organizers of the cooperative, said that ideally, the store should be open by the end of the first quarter of 2020.
What will make the store different is that it will be owned by members, Bass said, noting that the co-op has about 325 members so far from around the region. Once the store is up and running, he said, the members will elect their officers.
The store itself will have about 70 percent of its offerings produced by organic or sustainable methods, Bass said.
If the city approves the RUCA loan to the shopping center, Bass said, "we are one step closer."
The money from the city would be split in equal amounts of $367,565 between a low-interest loan and a matching loan. Money for the loans would come from money previously allocated but unspent in a program called Revitalizing Urban Commercial Areas, or RUCA, and new RUCA appropriations authorized by the voters of the city in a 2014 bond issue.
The shopping center work will include parking lot and exterior sidewalk improvements totaling $405,130 and bid competitively by the owner.
Construction documents for the Harvest Market are still in preparation, city officials said. The $330,000 requested by the shopping center owner would go toward fitting up the space for the grocery store, but the city would pay out the money only after the construction documents have been approved and the work competitively bid.
The city said the shopping center received $269,377 for exterior and interior improvements previously, and that the loan was forgiven after the owner met all the terms of the RUCA program.
South Ward Council Member John Larson, who represents the area, said the shopping center renovation is a key to revitalizing the area along Peters Creek Parkway to the south of Business 40 and BB&T Ballpark.
"This is a transformative location," Larson said.
City leaders cited the need to improve the Budget Inn property across the street from the shopping center as one reason to move forward with help for the West Salem center.
In May, PCCI Land Inc., created by the Peters Creek Community Initiative, acquired title to the Budget Inn property at a cost of $1.2 million paid to former owners Krystal Corp. Winston-Salem and Forsyth County each contributed $600,000 to the initiative to pay for the acquisition.
The Peters Creek Community Initiative hopes to construct affordable housing on the property.
Meanwhile, Evan Raleigh, one of the assistant city managers of Winston-Salem, said that even if the grocery co-op did not move into the space at the shopping center, the renovations paid for by the RUCA loan would make the space suitable for any other business.
"The Harvest Market may or may not occupy that space," Raleigh said. He later added that while the grocery co-op is still putting together its plans, the assumption is that the market would occupy the space in the shopping center.
Meanwhile, the city finance committee has also recommended approval of a smaller RUCA project involving the renovation of a building at 620 Monmouth Street.
The owner of the building, Annie Teachey, plans to renovate the building that formerly had a hair salon as a tenant. The building has about 1,800 square feet of space and would be renovated as office space.
The renovation cost was estimated at $208,000, with work expected to take about 10 weeks.
Teachey is asking the city for a low-interest loan of $104,000 and a matching loan of $104,000. City officials said the loans would be paid for entirely from money previously allocated to RUCA and not spent, and that the project wouldn’t require any money from the 2014 bonds.