HEB’s plan to build three new stores in Collin County is celebrated in some circles and criticized in others.
Stores are scheduled to open in Plano, Frisco and the town of McKinney in a few years’ time, which announced the news this week.
The fanfare that comes with large arrivals, including popular Texan grocer HEB, serves as a gruesome reminder for others desperately looking for quality grocers in their neighborhood.
“Figuratively, it adds salt to the wound,” said Casey Thomas, a Dallas city council member.
Those who have worked for years to lure branded grocers to Dallas, especially south of I-30, say these types of announcements are just another heartache.
Feed Oak Cliff’s Anga Sanders says she’s used to it.
“You just jump right over the southern sector of Dallas,” she said.
According to the city of Dallas, around 450,000 people live in so-called Dallas “food deserts,” where grocery stores, farmers’ markets and healthy food providers are often miles away.
Some residents resort to mom and pop shops for their needs, while others venture into other neighborhoods and cities for groceries.
Although HEB purchased land in North Oak Cliff in 2016, the company has not yet announced a start date for the project.
Dallas city councilor Chad West, who represents that section of Bishop Arts, tells NBC 5 that HEB officials recently told him they were coming. However, the company plans to first complete the renovation of its tornado-ravaged Central Market store in North Dallas and build a Central Market along McKinney Avenue in Uptown.
There is also talk of HEB potentially seeking the inclusion of retail, apartment, or office space to begin an Oak Cliff project.
Sanders calls grocers like HEB “myopic” because they fail to emphasize Oak Cliff’s potential for success, especially in areas with a food desert.
“If they were in the southern sector, they would be basically the only game in town, moving way out of the mile radius that they are looking at,” she said.
The city is also considering whether to buy the “Save U More” in the highland hills of southeast Dallas. The store closed in January.
Some neighbors said poor inventory levels had caused the store to decline in recent months.
The store opened in 2016 after the city awarded the developer a $ 2.9 million grant to renovate the mall and open the grocery store.
In return, the builder should provide the neighborhood with a shop for 10 years.
Thomas said the city is in contact with the owner to see what can be done to build a grocery store in the same location, although critics say the city should stop spending taxpayers’ money on a failed project.
What is important when a company decides to set up shop?
A spokesperson for HEB tells NBC 5 that they are considering market demand, population growth and real estate availability.
The company is considering buying new land or choosing between already acquired land.
“The tremendous growth in Collin County is no secret and the number of requests from residents to build here has been overwhelming. Given these factors, opening stores in Collin County is a natural fit, ”said company spokeswoman Mabrie Jackson.
The city of Mansfield is also eagerly awaiting HEB.
A plan to get the grocer there has been in the works since 2016.
A city spokesman for Mansfield told NBC 5 on Friday that they have no update on their project at the time.
Recent data, presented during a recent city council committee meeting, shows that the average resident of a food desert in Dallas makes about $ 15,000 a year.
Not everyone, argues Thomas.
“There are individuals in my district who own homes valued at $ 250 to $ 350,000,” he said. “We have disposable income, money that we can spend on food.”
Thomas points out older residents of south Dallas who own their homes and those who shop in wholesale stores in surrounding cities.
“I don’t see this as a problem of poverty,” said Thomas. “I see it as a perception problem. Everyone who lives south of I-30 is perceived as poor or low-income. “
Sanders accuses brand name grocers of “disregarding” 40% of the Dallas population.
Businesses shouldn’t focus so much on average annual income.
“Average food expenditure is not based on income, but on the number of people you need to feed,” said Sanders.
Sanders has been trying for years to attract high-quality grocers to the area as part of “Feed Oak Cliff”.
The nonprofit also receives funding for its ongoing efforts to open a nonprofit grocery store.
Executives traveled to Waco years ago to check out this city’s store with the concept.
Sanders says Oak Cliff will see its community-owned nonprofit grocery store before a branded grocer moves in.
“Hold on,” said Sanders with a smile, followed by a laugh.
When asked whether the residents can count on a grocer in 5 or 10 years, Sanders replied with another smile: “No. No.’