DENVER — Decades ago, a grocery store used to sit on a Montbello lot near Peoria and Albrook Drive. Come January of 2024, a new one will be built underneath 97 units of affordable housing
“All dreams are possible. It's how much work you want to put into it,” said resident of Montbello and president of the Montbello Organizing Committee,” Chris Martinez.
When all is said and done, this dream will be completed after nearly 10 years of hard work. Some still remember the day when they could shop at the old grocery store.
“My aunt Sandy actually worked at the Safeway that was at this at this location and takes great pride in the fact that that was one of her first job bagging groceries,” said Vernon Jones Jr.
Since then, it turned into an RTD Park-n-Ride and now has sat empty for about seven years, until now.
“What it is going to become is an amazing multi-use development with affordable housing. It will have a grocery store, mental health services, retail spaces, and a cultural arts center,” said executive director of the Montbello Organizing Committee, Donna Garnett.
Ninety-seven affordable housing units will be built, with about 55 units will be for those making 30% to 60% of the area median income. The grocery store at the base of the building is planned to be run by a nonprofit.
“It's just going to be a great space that honors what Montbello is. Dignity, pride, diversity — that's what this space is going to recognize,” said Jones Jr.
Currently, the nearest full-service grocery store is miles away.
Maricruz Herrera, who lives in the neighborhood, says living in a food desert is difficult, especially when it comes to buying the essentials.
“We tried desperately to bring a large chain back into the community. We don't fit the profile for those large, either national or regional chains. We decided we were tired of waiting to be rescued,” said Garnett.
Because of the community's work, construction is expected to finally begin in November.
“Our motto is development without displacement, it's really important that we not build this dream out for other people to come in and take it over,” said Garnett.
A monumental step toward investing in Montbello and keeping families in the neighborhood housed and healthy, the project is expected to create more than a hundred jobs and donations for the project are still being accepted.