Clifton grocery store opening delayed, again

CINCINNATI - The inside of the old Keller IGA grocery store on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton can be hazardous to your feet.

"Watch your step," warns new owner Steve Goessling. "It's under construction and there's nails hanging up here."

It seems there are more than nails hanging up his plan to reopen a full service grocery store in Clifton.
Goessling says he has a verbal commitment from the city to loan him $550,000, which he would add to a bank loan to get renovations, including a deli and a coffee bar underway.

Clifton residents are anxious for the store to open.

"It's heartbreaking to have to see all the elderly people needing to depend on people like me who can drive and go get groceries for them," said Claudia Reilly, who has lived in Clifton since 1991.

Unfortunately, the elderly may have to wait a while longer. Goessling says the bank needs more than just words from Cincinnati that the city is serious about the loan. The bank wants it in writing.

"As of this date," Goessling said, "we are still waiting for that commitment letter, and everything hinges on that."

Councilmember Wendell Young says the city manager has given his blessing to the project.

"He assured me that he's going to do everything he can to make this happen," Young said.

So what's the problem?

A city spokesperson says Cincinnati is working with the Grow America Fund to get the money. They specialize in lending to small businesses.

That hasn't been a good experience for Goessling.

"I have no interest in talking with the Grow America people anymore," he said. "I went through that process, I've jumped through their hurdles, I've given mountains of information to them. This project stands on its own."

And until that issue is resolved, Clifton residents will have to continue getting their groceries somewhere else.

To break the impasse, Goessling met with the city's Economic Development Department Friday afternoon. 

He plans to continue negotiations via phone conference on Monday.  

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