Dayton chips in for Gem City Market, Hope Center

Two projects that are expected to bring nearly $17 million in new investment to northwest Dayton have received grants from the city to help with development costs.

Dayton’s elected leaders this week approved two grants worth a combined $575,000 to assist with creating a new full-service cooperative grocery store and a new center focused on workforce development, health and education.

Located less than two miles apart, the Gem City Market and the Hope Center for Families are expected to rejuvenate underserved areas of the lower Salem Avenue corridor and the Dayton View Triangle neighborhood.

“We’re glad to see these assets coming into the community,” said Ford Weber, Dayton’s director of economic development.

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The city has agreed to provide Co-op Dayton, formerly the Greater Dayton Union Cooperative Initiative Inc., with a $225,000 grant for the Gem City Market. The city also will give Omega Community Development Corp. a $350,000 grant for the Hope Center for Families.

Both projects are transformative and will have valuable community reach and impact, Weber said.

The Gem City Market will improve access to high-quality food, but also the new market will have nutritional programming and will work to improve Daytonians’ diets, Weber said.

The $5.9 million project at 324 Salem Ave. will sell affordable and quality kitchen staples, offering a well-stocked produce and meat departments, and a community space will teach healthy food classes and other programming, the city said.

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The full-service market is moving into a food desert where residents have limited access to healthy and inexpensive food options, the city said.

The 15,800-square-foot grocery and retail operation is aligned with the city’s asset-based development strategy for northwest Dayton, and the city wants to promote health, wellness and economic growth in this part of the city, says a development agreement with the Co-op Dayton, which is leading the market project.

The market has more than 2,400 members (also called community owners) and plans to open later this year. An old art supply store on the site has been demolished, and the market unveiled a new logo this week.

The city’s grant money will help pay for costs for engineering, architectural, construction management, financial advisory, legal services or furnishing and equipping the facility.

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The Hope Center is a $11 million project that will provide access to services in health care, skill-set and workforce development and education. The new center at 1816 Harvard Blvd. will help remove obstacles to employment related to problems like addiction and lack of literacy and basic education.

The center plans to address racial and ethnic health disparities and will house a childcare center, after-school mentoring programs and other educational programs and service learning activities.

“We believe this could make an incredible impact on our city,” said Vanessa Ward, president of the Omega Community Development Corp.

The city’s grant dollars will help pay for similar kinds of costs as the Gem City Market.

The center will be built on the 30-acre Harvard campus that used to be home to the United Theological Seminary.

The community development corporation bought the land in 2005, and plans for the campus include senior housing and outdoor recreation facilities.

Construction started last year on a 81-unit apartment community called the Omega Senior Lofts, which is located a short walk from the site of the new center.

“It’s amazing to see all the work and progress being done over there,” said Dayton City Commissioner Jeffrey Mims Jr.

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