Garfield residents plan rally over Bottom Dollar site
Discount grocer Aldi is ignoring a community development group’s request for information on the future of one of the stores it is acquiring from a competitor, representatives of the group said.
The Bloomfield-Garfield Corp. plans to lead a rally Monday requesting that Aldi share its plan for the 6-month-old Bottom Dollar Food store at 5200 Penn Ave. in Garfield that will close by the end of the year.
“We want it to remain a grocery store so that our neighbors have access to food,” said Sarah Burke, communications and marketing manager for the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp.
In November, Belgium-based Delhaize Group announced that it planned to close its 66 Bottom Dollar Food stores, including the 20 in the Pittsburgh area, by the end of the year and sell the real estate and remaining lease liabilities for $15 million to Aldi Inc., which operates more than 1,300 stores in the United States.
The sale is expected to close in the first quarter of 2015.
Until the transaction is complete, Aldi cannot discuss plans for the Bottom Dollar locations, Aldi spokeswoman Julie Ketay said.
Delhaize is not releasing information beyond its Nov. 5 announcement of the impending sale of Bottom Dollar locations, spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown said.
The first Bottom Dollar Food in Pennsylvania opened in King of Prussia in October 2010, and the chain entered the Pittsburgh region with seven stores in January 2012.
The first Bottom Dollar within the city of Pittsburgh was Garfield’s first grocery store in 25 years, when it opened in a building at the site of a former Giant Eagle grocery store in June.
Before that, the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp. and residents worked for years to attract a grocery store to the neighborhood, Burke said.
“It was very hard to access food (before Bottom Dollar Food opened). People had to get on a bus to even get to a grocery store,” she said.
From 2000 to 2010, Garfield’s population declined 32.6 percent to 3,675 residents, according to data from Pittsburgh Planning Department. Its housing vacancy rate was 23.1 percent, compared to Pittsburgh’s 12.8 percent and Allegheny County’s 9.4 percent. It had a poverty rate of 44.5 percent, compared to 21.7 percent for Pittsburgh and 12.6 percent for the county.
Aldi will acquire Bottom Dollar Food for $15 million, excluding inventory and fixtures. The Bloomfield-Garfield Corp. would like Bottom Dollar to refrain from selling the Penn Avenue building’s fixtures until a written plan with community input for the Penn Avenue building is in place.
The Bloomfield-Garfield Corp. would prefer to buy the Penn Avenue building and lease it to a grocer, said Aggie Brose, deputy director.
“We know that if Bottom Dollar starts pulling out all the fixtures, we’ll be left with an empty shell over there,” Brose said.
The rally will begin with a 6 p.m. news conference near the store, which will be followed by a 7 p.m. community meeting at the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp. Activity Center to discuss the store.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or [email protected].