With the closing of a “lifeline” grocery store for many South Frankfort residents imminent, the city commission Monday broached providing options to help support a replacement if one chose to move to the community.
Commissioners, at the end of their regular meeting, discussed the closing of Bryant’s Pic-Pac. Feeding the residents of South Frankfort and downtown since its construction in 1953, the store will soon close its doors for good, owner Danny Bryant announced this week.
Commissioners discussed the possibiity of the city working with a developer to establish a replacement grocery store in the neighborhood.
Commissioner Eric Whisman opened the discussion, describing the store as a “lifeline for our downtown community” because many low-income, fixed-income, elderly or disabled people live within walking distance.
“A lot of people depend on it to get sustenance, and it’s as important to some people within walking distance as utilities — water and sewer and otherwise,” Whisman said. “I’d like to ask the commission that we start reviewing and looking for some alternatives to support a local grocery … so our elderly and others can get their groceries and what they need. I think there is likely an opportunity here we’ll see a grocery store survive in this location.”
The city does offer a public trolley as transportation for residents who lack transportation to the larger chain grocery stores outside of downtown. But round trips can usually take a significant time commitment, according to residents in the area.
Only Commissioner Scott Tippett expressed approval of the idea to explore options for a replacement. He agreed with Whisman’s description of how critical the store is to the community and called on the economic professionals who work in Frankfort’s semigovernmental agencies to recruit replacements, who could then receive institutional knowledge from Bryant.
“We need to look at all options to keep that service in South Frankfort,” Tippett said.
Commissioner John Sower highlighted that there are currently no opportunity zones in the Second Street area that would incentivize a developer with tax breaks. However, Whisman said there are historic preservation grants that could help with up to 40% of renovation costs.
The area is also the focus of $8 million from a federal TIGER Grant. It aims to make the corridor from West Second Street to East Main Street safer for pedestrians and cyclists while beautifying the area to make it more attractive to investors.
Whisman said he would meet with Bryant later in the week to explore options of him possibly contributing institutional knowledge to a successor.
“Maybe he can pass on the needs of the community, and we can target that,” Whisman said.