Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced that the URA will enter lease negotiations with Salem’s Market & Grill to open a grocery store in the Centre Heldman Plaza at 1850 Centre Avenue in the Hill District. The new store will move into a space once occupied by a Shop ‘n Save supermarket.
The former Shop ‘n Save, one of the few places where Hill District residents could buy groceries, closed in 2019, only five years after it opened. According to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article about the closing, the location had been the community’s first full-service supermarket in three decades.
Councilor Daniel Lavelle (D-Hill District), who has been working with the URA and Hill Community Development Corporation to find a new tenant for the space, says in a press release, "Salem's Market locating to the Hill District is a tremendous win both for Salem's and the Hill District community."
Besides providing fresh produce, meat, international foods, and other items, the new Salem’s location is being touted as bringing jobs to the neighborhood and dedicating retail space to local vendors. A press release says local trade contractors and minority-owned business enterprises will be also hired for the project’s construction.
Salem's originally opened over 40 years ago in Oakland serving Halal meat and curry dishes. Long owned and operated by the Salem family, who are originally from Libya, the business moved to Penn Avenue in the Strip District. Salem's has become popular with the local Muslim community as well as diners looking for authentic, quality Middle Eastern food and grocery items.
The URA took over the former Shop ‘n Save after it shut down and has since worked with the community to find a potential tenant to fill the space. URA deputy executive director Diamonte Walker says the organization purchased the Centre Heldman Plaza to “ensure there is a transparent conversation about which grocery store would best fit the needs of the Hill District community.”
A press release says Salem’s was chosen from four finalists presented last month as part of the Hill CDC’s Development Review Panel, where residents "shared their views and preferences by filling out an online scorecard for each candidate." Salem’s application is described as highlighting how they could “collaborate with and contribute to the Hill District community” based on the Greater Hill District Master Plan and Centre Avenue Redevelopment and Design Plan, which outline ways to boost the overlooked, historically Black neighborhood.
Lavelle believes that the arrangement will be advantageous for Salem’s, allowing the business to expand, while also supporting efforts to rebuild Centre Avenue as a thriving business corridor. Lavelle has worked with the Hill community to “attract community-driven tenants” to the Centre Heldman Plaza, including CARES CommuniTEA Café, the Catapult Minority Business Incubator, and G’s Closet.
“We want to thank Mayor Peduto, Councilman Lavelle, and the Hill CDC for committing to a community-centered process that continues our recent record of revitalizing the Hill District with local, minority-owned businesses,” says Walker. “We look forward to entering into good-faith lease negotiations with Salem’s.”