Lake Street set to lose Good Grocer, paving over the only oasis in a food desert

- For the last couple of years, the Good Grocer on East Lake Street has served as the oasis in a food desert in South Minneapolis.

But soon, the volunteer-run destination for low prices and fresh produce will have to move.

"Its convenient," customer Marcia Hannah said. "They used to have something by Kmart, but that closed it down. So they needed something in the middle of Lake Street that people can get to, especially without cars," 

The building will be demolished in March to make room for a highway reconstruction project that will add a transit hub to 35W near Lake Street, and widen Stevens Avenue next door to make way for an exit ramp.

Hennepin County bought the land from the property owner for more than a million dollars in May and is helping the Good Grocer cover the cost of relocating.

"That decision preceded the Good Grocer," Hennepin County Engineer Jim Grube said. "We've been working with them for some time. Now our job is to work with the proprietor of the Good Grocer to make sure that vision continues at a new location in the neighborhood." 

But nearly half the people in the surrounding neighborhoods don't have cars, and what made the current store appealing was its location right on the bus line. Now, the Good Grocer's founder says finding another location they can afford within walking distance is a tall order.

"One thing is critical when you serve a population that has low mobility: you have to stay within blocks," Good Grocer founder Kurt Vickman said. "You can't just pick up and move to another part of the city. It has to be here and it's hard to find real estate in a four block radius." 

Customers, however, hope the Good Grocer will continue to be a good neighbor for the foreseeable future.

"I hope they can find a way to stay open," Hannah said. "If they can't, it's another good thing gone I guess. Nothing good lasts around Minneapolis anymore." 

The Good Grocer is eyeing a spot about four blocks away, but can't make any permanent plans until negotiations with the county wrap up.

The non-profit has until the end of February to vacate its current location.

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