An $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will help a new westside Turlock supermarket to open, believed to be the long-in-development Mi Pueblo Food Center.
The grant was applied for by the Stanislaus County Economic Development and Workforce Alliance, in partnership with the City of Turlock and Concord-based developers New Urban Community Partners.
NUCP is the developer of a shopping center at the intersection of West Main Street and South Soderquist Avenue, which formerly held a Dollar City. NUCP has previously stated its intent to build a Mi Pueblo Food Center at the site, but the development has been stalled since 2011.
The HHS Healthy Food Financing Initiative grant is intended to increase access to healthy, affordable food in communities that currently lack such options.
“Funds from this grant will enable the Turlock Supermarket Project to move forward,” Denham said. “This project will only benefit the community with employment and healthy food alternatives.”
According to Denham, the project will create construction employment and sustainable employment for low-income individuals, including those on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. And the market will serve a low-income area, which he described as lacking in access to healthy foods.
“Most importantly, residents in the area will gain access to groceries and have the opportunity to obtain fresh fruits, vegetables meat and poultry,” Denham said.
There are two Mexican supermarkets within a quarter mile of the proposed supermarket site, in addition to several smaller “mini-mart” style markets. Cost Less Market is located less than three-quarters of a mile away.
Denham also said the market will use an “innovative strategy that will provide healthy food alternatives and achieve sustainable employment.”
The City of Turlock approved NUCP's plans for the center in May 2011. At the time, NUCP said that the center would be anchored by a 36,000 square-foot Mi Pueblo Food Center.
The Mi Pueblo Food Center was set to bring 125 jobs to Turlock, developers said, along with a carniceria, fresh produce, a bakery with fresh goods throughout the day, a hot Mexican deli with a seating area, a tortelleria, and a customer service center with check cashing, utility payments, and money transfers.
But in June of 2012, the Mi Pueblo Food Center's fate was publicly questioned at a meeting of the Turlock Planning Commission. At that meeting, Turlock Deputy Director of Development Services said that Mi Pueblo was “not moving forward,” due to “unresolved issues” between developers and the grocery chain.
In March of 2013 Reed Onate, NUCP vice president, said that NUCP was in talks with both Mi Pueblo Food Center and Family Dollar as prospective tenants, but that neither had yet committed to the center.
NUCP did not respond to repeated requests for comment on this story.