Jubliee Homes Executive Director Walt Dixie knows a lot still has to happen in the next three to four weeks before the community can celebrate any groundbreaking of a Price Rite supermarket at the corner of South and Bellevue Avenues.
"Once we sign this contract, this lease, we're feeling pretty good at that point. Once that happens, we get everything conveyed from the city, all the money is verifiable, Price Rite is paying for pre-development stuff already, there's demolition that needs to be played in. There's all these moving parts moving simultaneously, and I'm just watching all the parts come together, so it's really great."
Common councilors Monday handed over 18 parcels around the building, which Jubilee already owns, and will demolish three other structures to make way for an expansion and parking. District councilor Khalid Bey says it's overdue.
"I'm always optimistic. A lot of work and sweat. But, I'm ready to see a hammer swing at this point."
But Bey’s vote didn’t come without some reservations. Syracuse.com reports the city is spending more than $150,000 on the demolition, the county has invested $400,000 in the project, and the state has chipped in $1.2 million.
"My concern is to make sure that the owners of this store make as much of an investment as the taxpayers, especially since they're more than likely to take the money back to where they live. But outside of that, Price Rite has demonstrated a decent support for community with the way they did business on the boulevard. Hiring from the immediate community, so that is something to look forward to."
Price Rite opened a store on Erie Boulevard E. and Teall Ave. in 2012.
Walt Dixie says the public investment on the south side is a long-time coming, especially he says when considering the tax breaks and other large sums of government money handed out to already successful developers downtown, the amphitheater, and the hospitals.
"There's nothing of hope in our neighborhoods. So we hope this becomes a message to the broader community...invest in urban neighborhoods. Jubilee is now a voice of the underserved, the forgotten community. So, there's a whole bigger picture to this store when we put this light on it."
Councilor Khalid Bey.
"For an area that's seen no development in years, it's a victory. The job opportunity, entry level or not, for people to work, and to be able to walk to work, is equally of benefit, for persons in the immediate community who may not have transportation to get to Nojaims or most certainly Price Chopper or the others can have easy access."
Walt Dixie says despite the long struggle against the odds, he was never ready to give up.
"We just stayed true to our mission, and the community stayed in tune with us, so I eventually figured at some point, this is going to work."