By Kasey Joyce
St. Louis (KSDK) - It's been vacant for years, and now a major development is in the works for the old FoodLand on Jefferson near Interstate 44 in south St. Louis. The grocery store shut its doors in 2004, forcing residents to go miles for fresh, affordable food.
"It's inconvenient because I have to get a ride or wait for a bus to get to the nearest grocery stores," said Gate District resident Faye Hooks.
But that's about to change.
"We're one step closer with approval from the TIF commission, but there's still more work to be done," said Alderman Kacie Starr Triplett.
The Tax Increment Financing Commission decided Wednesday to approve $1.7 million in funds to help develop the site.
Developer Phil Hulse said that money makes the entire project possible.
"We hope to have a lease signed with the lead tenant by the first of February," Hulse said.
Hulse hopes to have the whole development up and running within a year. So far, the plans call for a mixed use development with a grocery store, hardware store, coffee shop, fitness gym and bank.
"We need one," said Gate District resident Shirley Benson. "We need a place where we can go and get groceries without going so far."
But not everyone is as excited about the development. Emma Forrest operates a small market just across the street.
"I'm happy to see more retail come into the area, but I am worried about how it will impact my business," Forrest said.
Forrest is working to retool her market so she can compete when the new store opens its doors later this year.
"So we'll just have to see how it goes," Forrest said.
"We need a grocery store in the area," Triplett said. "So it looks like it's finally coming to pass."
Developers say this new project will bring an estimated 70-80 new jobs to the region.