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Officials Break Ground On Howard Park ShopRite

Sean Simon

Today, Father Donald Sterling, pastor of the New All Saints Catholic Church said, “God is so happy with us this morning; he’s so happy, he’s crying, and he’s sharing with us his tears.”  Sterling led the groundbreaking ceremony for the first supermarket to serve Howard Park since 1999.

Officials from Baltimore City, Maryland General Assembly and Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD) attended the ceremony Tuesday morning at the site of the store on the corner of Liberty Heights Avenue and Hillside Road.

A coalition of community groups that included BUILD, New All Saints Catholic Church, Northwest Coalition, Howard Park Civic Association and Calvin Rodwell Elementary School led the effort that began three years after Super Brite closed. Super Brite was the last supermarket to operate in the neighborhood.

The coalition eventually brought its cause before the City Council which approved ordinances to expand the site in order to make it attractive to a grocery chain.  In total, the city spent $3.2 million in acquiring properties in the area of the site.

In addition to making the site attractive, supporters dealt with the recession and then a deed covenant that was put in place by Rite Aid forbidding a pharmacy from being built on the land.  The pharmacy chain would release the covenant if the city paid the company $600,000.

Kim Truehart, a community activist, protested Rite Aid’s covenant in front of the store, just a few blocks from the site.  At the same time, the Howard Park Civic Association was planning to call a boycott of all Rite-Aid stores in the city. Two days before the boycott call, Rite Aid relented and removed the covenant without cost to the city.

The new supermarket is being developed by the Klein family which owns several ShopRite stores in Eastern Baltimore and Harford Counties, with help from Uplift solutions, a Philadelphia non-profit that helps open supermarkets in food deserts. This will be the first Klein store to open in the city.

The $20 million project is expected to be completed in April 2014.  The 68,000 square foot market will have a pharmacy, a health suite staffed by a nurse practitioner, a halal meat section and a kitchen for students in the culinary arts program and Calvin Rodwell Elementary.