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Northside affordable housing project resurrects question on food desert

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Posted at 5:39 PM, Jul 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-16 18:59:22-04

CINCINNATI — The city is one step closer to getting more affordable housing units. Demolition began this week to make room for John Arthur Flats in Northside.

Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation, or NEST, owns the property on Apple Street where the complex will be located. The group says it is designed for seniors, and it will be open summer 2022. Leaders say it will be the city’s first LGBTQ+-friendly complex.

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Northside residents say seeing the demo Friday brought mixed feelings.

“Yes! We welcome the development,” said Jeanne Vennemeyer. “It is such an improvement for our neighborhood. This is such a diverse neighborhood.”

The property used to be a Save-A-Lot grocery store, but it closed in 2012, turning Northside into a food desert where residents must travel miles outside their neighborhood to access fresh foods.

In 2017, Apple Street Market Cooperative was formed to build a community-owned grocery store. But three years later, roadblocks like parking officially ruled out the former Save-A-Lot location, keeping them in the market for a market.

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"We have to look for a store again where we can be successful, where we have parking, where we have access to trucks, where people can see the store, where we have size," said Dr. Heather Zoller, a researcher and professor who studies public health at the University of Cincinnati.

Those seeing demolition on the site begs the question for those who donated money to the market: What's the latest on the project?

WCPO reached out the coop for an update, but has yet to hear back.