St Pete in talks with developer over new grocery store in Midtown "food desert"

ST PETERSBURG, Fla. — Imagine living in a place with no grocery stores and not having access to a car. That’s reality for hundreds of families in Tampa Bay.

In the midtown area of St. Pete, residents have seen two grocery stores close up shop within the past 3 years, leaving them without access to fresh food.

Now, St. Pete leaders are in initial talks with developers about bringing a smaller, 20,000 square foot grocery store to 18th Avenue S and 22nd Street, where the empty Walmart Neighborhood Market sits. 

97-year-old Caroline Moody is hopeful she’ll see a new grocery store open in the vacant Tangerine Plaza. Moody, and many of her neighbors, are without transportation. With the closest grocery store miles away, they have to rely on a bus or friends and family to get to a store with fresh food.

Susan Coleman, who also lives in Midtown explains, “It’s very hard, especially when you don’t have a vehicle. The bus routes are very busy.”

Slow sales forced a SweetBay and Walmart Neighborhood Market to close. 

One developer, Deveron Gibbons, is looking into the possibility of adding a convenience store and gas station at Tangerine Plaza. The city has also been in talks with Miami-based Altis Cardinal, LLC, about opening up a store at Tangerine Plaza.

While talks about the new development are in the initial stages, people who live in midtown St Pete are hopeful.

“I’d be very happy,” Moody explained. “I want to be able to take care of myself just as long as I can and not to have to rely on others. I can’t wait to see a new store open so I can once again be independent.”

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