Schumer Pushed to Secure Major Fed Funds to Jumpstart Constantino’s Grocery Store – All Part of Effort to Create Urban Village Center, Support Job Growth & Spur Economic Development Throughout College Town Area

Constantino’s Market Was Looking to Open In Rochester, But First Needed to Secure Start-Up Funds to Make Project a Reality – Schumer Urged HHS to Approve Game-Changing Loan Through ‘Community Economic Development Healthy Food Financing Initiative’ 

Schumer: With The Oasis of A Full-Service Grocer Now Set to Open, Area Can Finally Shed “Food Desert” Label

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today led guests and media on a first look at the new Constantino’s Market in Rochester’s College Town, which is set to transform the area by providing access to healthy food, supporting local jobs, and paving the way for increased economic development opportunities in the City of Rochester. Schumer explained that, now that this full-service grocer is set to open to customers this week, the College Town and Mt. Hope Ave. area can finally shed the “food desert” label it was given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for roughly a decade. Schumer said that the establishment of a new grocery store has been a major community goal since the Mt. Hope Wegmans store closed over 10 years ago, and he discussed his role in making this 21,000 square foot store opening a reality. This opening comes after Schumer successfully secured more than $740,000 in federal funds in September 2014 to jumpstart the construction of this grocery store. Schumer worked with the non-profit Action for a Better Community (ABC), Constantino’s, and the University of Rochester to secure these funds, which are being used by ABC to hire and train Rochester residents to work full time at the store and to provide a low-interest business loan for necessary start-up costs. Schumer said this grocery store can now be part of the major revitalization effort in the City of Rochester to create an urban village center, spur economic development, create new full-time jobs, and retain and attract new residents and businesses in the city’s College Town.

“Grocery stores are a centerpiece of any neighborhood. Ensuring that the people of College Town have not just a grocery store, but also one that provides healthy options has been a top priority of mine, and for the Mt. Hope area, for a very long time. The Constantino’s Market means dozens of jobs for local residents,” said Schumer. “The Mt. Hope area has not had a grocery store in over a decade and now we can shed this area’s ‘food desert’ label and welcome a full-service grocer – Constantino’s Market – to the neighborhood. This grocery store will help attract and retain homeowners and businesses, bring jobs, and spur further economic development projects that will revitalize this entire area.”

“We are excited to open in Rochester at Collegetown. The University and Mt. Hope neighborhood deserve a grocery store that can serve all their needs, and Constantino's Markets is ready! We are extremely grateful for the help and support of Senator Schumer in securing a grant that has made this store a reality,” said Andrew Revy of Constantino's Market.

During his visit, Schumer led the first look at the new Constantino’s Market in Rochester’s College Town. Schumer explained that a grocery store has been desperately needed along Mt. Hope Avenue since the Wegmans store closed more than 10 years ago. For roughly a decade, the College Town and Mt. Hope area was labeled a “food desert” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture because of its lack of access to a full-service grocer. The establishment of this new store has been a major community effort over the past 10 years, and Schumer said the new 21,000 square foot Constantino’s Market will finally make this neighborhood goal a reality. The grocery store is set to open to customers this week and will create 38 new full-time positions—most of which are already filled. Schumer said Constantino’s also anticipates having as many as 50 total full- and part-time employees in the future.

Constantino’s is a family-owned small business that was first started by Costa Mavromichalis in Cleveland, Ohio. Schumer explained that Mr. Mavromichalis owned successful convenience stores in Cleveland in the early 1980s and 1990s that were top performers in the area. With that success, he opened their first grocery store in Cleveland. Today, the family owns and operates three grocery stores in Cleveland along with one café. This Rochester store will be their fifth store and, at 21,000 sq ft, will also be their largest.

Schumer helped deliver $20 million in federal funds through a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) loan to the City of Rochester in order to make the greater $100 million College Town revitalization efforts possible. These redevelopment projects include new housing, shops, restaurants, and a hotel, all of which are now opening at College Town. Schumer said that, throughout this entire redevelopment process, one of the key tenants envisioned by College Town’s developer, the Cleveland-based Fairmount Properties, was a full-service grocery store. While this led Fairmount Properties to pursue Constantino’s, the small grocer needed start-up funding in order to take on the venture. 

This led Schumer to work with the local non-profit Action for a Better Community (ABC), Constantino’s and the University of Rochester to secure federal funds to bring the full-service grocer to Rochester. Schumer wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in support of ABC’s application for $748,436 in federal Community Economic Development Healthy Food Financing Initiative funds and personally called Jeannie Chaffin, Director of the Office of Community Services at the Administration for Children & Families within HHS, to explain his support for the proposal.

In September 2014, Schumer announced that he had successfully secured these funds; they are currently being used by ABC to hire and train new, full-time, local Rochester employees to work at the store as well as provide a low-interest business loan to support the store’s start-up costs. ABC agreed to provide local individuals training and post-employment support services to succeed in these new jobs and help them to successfully transition to achieve self-sufficiency. In addition, this federal investment will leverage $3,608,000 to cover build-out-equipment and other start-up costs that have already been committed to the project.

Schumer was joined by Andrew Revy, a partner with Constantino’s; local officials; and community members.

In 2012, Schumer met with University of Rochester President Joel Seligman and Mayor Tom Richards to announce his campaign to secure federal assistance for the College Town development project. Following this push, Schumer secured the $20 million federal HUD loan for the City of Rochester to enable this transformative College Town project to become a reality. Schumer said that this project will bring more residents, jobs and further redevelopment projects to the area. This grocery store will now be part of a major redevelopment project by the University of Rochester to create an urban village center, spur economic development, create new full-time jobs, and retain and attract new residents and businesses at College Town within the City of Rochester.

Schumer has been a longtime advocate of developing College Town in Rochester. In addition to this full-service grocery store effort, in early 2014, Schumer helped secure an additional $1 million in federal Transportation Enhancement Program funding to construct the College Town Cycle Track, a dedicated bicycle trail connecting the Genesee River Trail, University of Rochester facilities, College Town, and the Town of Brighton. The cycle track will create a direct link for college students and residents to visit and patronize the new shops, restaurants, and amenities being built at College Town.


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