Peach Market Hopes to Tackle Jackson’s Downtown ‘Food Desert’, Owner Says
JACKSON, MI – It took nearly six years of research, grant proposals and renovations, but Andrew Kokas hopes to finally open an urban grocery store in downtown Jackson this year, tackling a “food desert” in the city. city center.
“Peach Market”, a 7,000 square foot grocery store with fresh produce, a coffee and liquor bar, a delicatessen, ready meals and more, intends to open in late spring 2021, said Kokas, who owns and develops former Evanoff’s Food. and building cocktails with his wife, Yizhuo “Olivia” Liang.
The market is specifically aimed at bringing healthy food and healthy produce to neighborhoods around the city center, especially in low-income areas where people may have to take public transportation to grocery stores, Kokas said. .
“(We want to) make sure that people who live on the outskirts of the city center can actually use the city center, which they haven’t been able to do for generations,” Kokas said. “The city center is mostly made up of high rise office buildings, expensive restaurants and a few gift shops.”
Kokas and Liang bought the 120-year-old building at 148 E. Cortland St. in 2014 for $ 65,000, according to records. They have spent the last few years looking for ways to fund the major renovations needed, Kokas said.
The two tried to get loans from 30 different financial institutions, but were unable to receive funding because they did not have enough capital, Kokas said. Since then, grants from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan Good Food Fund and others have helped move the project forward.
In recent years, the roof has been replaced and the load-bearing walls rebuilt. Now, work is underway on new showcases, while retaining most of the existing facade and working on the interior of the building.
Once opened, the market intends to accept both Bridge Card and SNAP benefits, Kokas said. Peach Market also plans to coordinate with local nonprofits to offer help that creates demand, such as nutritional counseling and cooking classes.
“Our plan with this grant (from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) is to introduce very low-income people to the idea of fresh food and incorporate it into their diet,” Kokas said.
The market can appeal to anyone, he said. New residents of newly built apartments and senior residences can walk there to shop every day, while commuters working at Consumers Energy or Henry Ford Allegiance Health can come and buy ready meals or small items. shopping after work.
“We are trying to create a supply and demand for fresh food downtown,” Kokas said. “It sounds like a weird idea, but we have just around this building, thousands and thousands of downtown workers who will hopefully come back to work in their offices and want to come here for organic produce and food. other kinds of things. But on the fringes of this downtown area, there are about 14 or 15,000 very low-income people who have never had a grocery store.
Peach Market intends to hire around 30 employees, split equally between part-time and full-time. Most of the employees hired will be residents of Jackson, Kokas said, and more specifically of the neighborhoods surrounding the downtown area.
“We look forward to seeing this project take shape and happy to see a vacant building in downtown Jackson find new use,” city spokesman Aaron Dimick said in an email. “It is also good news to hear that a grocery store is planned at this location, as it is well known that there is a strong demand for more food options in our urban center. “
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