Search for southside grocery store back on after proposed grocer falls through

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MADISON, Wis. — The search for a full-service grocery store for Madison’s south side is back on after the proposed grocer for a new development plan backed out to pursue other opportunities.

City leaders have been working to finalize plans for a new grocery store at 1402 S. Park St. since 2019 when tentative plans for a new SSM Health clinic caused concern for area residents that the closure of the Pick ‘N Save could create a food desert. SSM Health ultimately opted to move the clinic.

The city ultimately selected Rule Enterprises and Movin’ Out, Inc. in 2019 to redevelop the Truman Olson site with a 150-unit apartment complex, parking structure and grocery store space. Luna’s Groceries, a Madison grocery startup located on the city’s southwest side, was slated to take over the grocery space at the new development.

Mariam Maldonado, owner of Luna’s Groceries said they’re stepping away from the project.

“Luna’s has built a sustainable model for addressing food access in the Allied neighborhood, one of the City’s largest food deserts,” Maldonado said. “When I was chosen to work with the City and the Movin’ Out team on the Truman Olson project I was excited by the opportunity to expand our model of the neighborhood store that takes care of its community to the South Park Street area. However, in developing plans for the store, it has become increasingly clear to me that it will be challenging to accomplish Luna’s vision on this scale and in this timeframe. This has been a difficult decision for me, and I have appreciated the City’s trust in me and Luna’s mission.”

RELATED: Without Pick ‘n Save, south Madison could experience a food desert

The timeline for finding a new grocer is unclear, but Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said she’s “confident” the city will find a long-term partner for the space.

City leaders plan to reach out to other grocers who have previously expressed interest in the project.

District 13 Alder Tag Evers said finding a replacement is vital to ensuring southside residents have proper access to quality food.

“Our goal from the beginning has been to avoid a gap in grocery services on the south side and to make sure the grocery store not only gets built but succeeds in the long run”, said District 13 Alder Tag Evers. “We’re still confident that we can meet our goals on this project and wish Mariam and Luna’s success in their future efforts.”