WICHITA, Kan (KSNW) – A south Wichita community now has no immediate access to fresh fruits and vegetables after their neighborhood Save-A-Lot closed and is now being replaced with a store that does not sell produce.
Hamid Bakhtiari, the Wichita-raised developer, is putting in a new dollar store to replace the Save-A-Lot. He said he tried to replace the Save-A-Lot with another grocery store but the interested stores would not do it without incentives.
“We had probably half a million dollars in refrigeration in that place. Walk-in coolers, we had everything there,” Bakhtiari said.
He said he was ready to find a new grocery store for the food desert but did not have enough help from the city.
“It is what it is, but it would have been a good thing for the neighborhood to have some, you know, have a grocery store there. But we’ll, we’ll see moving forward what plans they have,” Bakhtiari said.
City Council Member Jared Cerullo said he is willing to work with the developer and address the food desert in his district.
“I hear about it all the time, that low-income people, disabled folks in district three, people who can’t drive, don’t have cars for one reason or another, they have no options to get fresh food and get to the grocery store very easily at all,” Cerullo said.
Vice Mayor Brandon Johnson said he has been reaching out to Senator Jerry Moran and other federal partners to address the numerous food deserts in Wichita.
“These dollar-style stores still don’t provide that access to fresh produce. In fact, sometimes in some studies shows that it competes with grocery stores and actually worsens the food desert because grocery opportunities won’t come to compete against something you have to pay $1 for,” Johnson said.
“When we have a turnkey grocery store, ready to go, but yeah, I think it’s definitely gonna be an uphill battle now to get a grocery store back in that neighborhood,” Bakhtiari said.
The developer said there are other spaces in this building that could still turn into a smaller market.
But he says, without the help of the city, it’s unlikely to happen.