Feb 27, 2024 - Business

Scoop: Lee's Market to reopen at 4th West apartments

Lee's Market storefront

Lee's Market on 4th West. Courtesy: Lee's Market.

Lee's Market is reopening at 4th West apartments more than a year since it shuttered after struggling to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest: The Utah-based grocery chain plans to open its doors in the first or second week of April, the company's CEO and president Jonathan Badger told Axios.

  • The approximately 9,000-square-foot store will still offer a grocery section, deli and bakery, but will reduce its selection of dried goods.
  • Negotiations between Lee's and 4th West started up last summer before reaching a deal to reopen the store, Badger said.

Why it matters: The grocery store's resurrection will once again offer residents in the growing neighborhood options for fresh and affordable food in an area that's been dubbed a "food desert."

State of play: Badger said they are working more closely with city officials to ensure Lee's is a "viable store for all of the residents in the area."

  • The store's opening in February 2020 — about a month before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold — was met with an enthusiastic response from locals.
  • Yes, but: Low foot traffic, limited parking options for shoppers and the pandemic forced the market to close, Badger said.

What they're saying: Salt Lake City Council Member Chris Wharton, whose district includes West Capitol Hill, Marmalade and Guadalupe, said residents have asked for a grocery store in the area for years.

  • "When Lee's opened, they viewed it as us moving in the right direction, and then when it ended up closing, it just felt like a big loss and a big step backward," Wharton told Axios.

Flashback: In a 2022 email to 4th West residents announcing the store's closure, Badger said the "urban store format" was a test for the grocery chain.

  • "Unfortunately, we found this style of shopping is not yet conducive to the Salt Lake City area," he wrote.

Between the lines: The neighborhood has encountered rapid development since Lee's closed in October 2022.

  • After facing multiple delays, construction finished last October on an adjacent, $8.5 million pedestrian bridge connecting the west side to downtown.
  • Camber, an upcoming luxury apartment complex across the street from Lee's, is expected to be completed later this year.
  • "We anticipate the volume to be better," Badger said.

What's next: A grand-opening event is slated for May.

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