A Latina-owned grocery store will anchor a $41-million development built by a Black-owned developer in one of Madison’s most diverse neighborhoods.
Luna’s Groceries has been selected to partner with Rule Enterprises to be the primary retailer in the development that will also include 150 apartments and more than 300 parking spaces.
As Madison365 reported in November, Milwaukee-based and Black-owned Rule Enterprises was awarded the contract to develop a 3.5-acre city-owned lot into a grocery store, apartments and parking garage. One contingency on the approval was that Rule was required to secure a grocery partner by January 16. The grocery was part of the requirement because the Pick N Save next door is slated to be demolished to make way for a new SSM Health clinic, prompting community concerns regarding access to food.
“Some people in the community thought that it would be a good idea for a local grocer to represent in the new developments,” said Mariam Maldonado, owner of Luna’s Groceries, which opened on Red Arrow Trail about a year ago. “So they suggest (Brandon) to come and talk to me.”
Luna’s opened with community support as well as financial help from the City of Madison to become the first source of fresh food in the Allied Drive – Dunn’s Marsh neighborhood in nearly ten years. Maldonado said the first year has been successful.
“The community has support us really well,” she said. “This community has been here for us. The community have stood up, they have come every day and shown me that what I’m doing that was worth it and it was needed.”
Rule apparently liked what he saw in the store and felt Luna’s had what it would take to grow into a space literally ten times the size of the small corner shop it is now.
Maldonado was quick to point out that Luna’s is opening a second location, not moving — the Allied Drive store will remain open.
Maldonado said the new store will have the same community focus as the first location.
“It’s not going to be just a grocery store. It’s going to have a little bit of community in it,” she said.
Specifically, Maldonado said she plans to build a community space into the store — a place where people can come to eat lunch, have a community organization meeting or teach a class.
Maldonado also said she hopes to take advantage of the larger space to feature things the smaller store can’t accommodate, like a full bakery.
“I want to bring a bakery that represent the diversity of Madison,” she said. “So I want to make Mexican bread, I want to make (baked goods) from Columbia, Venezuela.”
Back in November, Rule said community connection was important for him.
“I think this neighborhood is one with a tremendous amount of historical character. I like the fact that it’s extremely diverse,” he said. “And to have what I would call stakeholders look like a representation (of the community), I feel like that is just the beginning of a new philosophy and a new way of thought in Madison and in particular South Madison. Because my background is in community development, I empathize with the tremendous amount of communities that don’t, necessarily get their just to due from working with developers. I am truly excited about, changing that culture and providing an opportunity to just enhance what’s already going on. I’ll be invested in here for at the very least at least the next 30 (years). I’m excited personally to be invested in this neighborhood.”
“It’s just beautiful,” Maldonado said. “It’s like when community come together things like this can happen. Who would imagine that from Luna’s I have this big idea and somebody will support me and back me up and this is amazing.”
Maldonado anticipates opening the second store in 2022.