Luna’s Grocery will no longer be the anchor tenant at a major development on South Park Street, the City of Madison announced in a press release Thursday.
In 2019, the city awarded a contract to Milwaukee-based Rule Enterprises to develop the former Truman Olson Army Reserve Center at 1402 South Park Street into a 30,000-square foot grocery, 150 apartments and a 345-space parking garage. One of the contingencies of the contract was that Rule would be required to secure a grocery partner, as the Pick’n’Save nearby is slated for demolition to make way for a new SSM Health clinic, and community leaders wanted to avoid the neighborhood becoming a food desert.
In January 2020, the city announced that Luna’s would be that grocery. The store opened in 2019 in the Allied Drive neighborhood, ending a 10-year period without a grocery store in the neighborhood on Madison’s southwest side. Founder Mariam Maldonado said she would open a new 23,000-square-foot store in the Rule development to become not only a grocery but a community hub to open in 2022.
However, Thursday she and the city jointly announced that project will not move forward.
During the development process, the City of Madison agreed to step in and purchase the grocery condo for $4.6 million, according to the press release. This purchase allows the Development Team to close on their financing and commence construction on schedule.
City of Madison Community Development Project Manager Daniel Rolfs said in an email to Madison365 that Luna’s stepping away does not put the project in jeopardy, despite the contingency in the contract requiring a grocery partner.
” The City is working to close on sale of the property today so the development team can commence construction in short order. With the City’s commitment to purchase the grocery condo if needed, the development can proceed apace,” Rolfs said.
“Luna’s has built a sustainable model for addressing food access in the Allied neighborhood, one of the City’s largest food deserts,” Maldonado said in a statement. “When I was chosen to work with the City and the Movin’ Out team on the Truman Olson project I was excited by the opportunity to expand our model of the neighborhood store that takes care of its community to the South Park Street area. However, in developing plans for the store, it has become increasingly clear to me that it will be challenging to accomplish Luna’s vision on this scale and in this timeframe. This has been a difficult decision for me, and I have appreciated the City’s trust in me and Luna’s mission.”
The City thanked Mariam Maldonado and the Luna’s Groceries Team, and in the press release expressed commitment “to assisting them in future endeavors as they continue to build and expand their presence throughout the Madison community as part of their mission to eliminate food disparities in the City.”
Luna’s 2019 opening was supported in part by a City grant.
”I’m grateful that everyone involved with this project is prioritizing the needs of the South Madison community,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said in a statement. “I’m confident that we will secure a grocery partner for this site, and I’m confident that Luna’s will continue to serve our community well for many years to come.”
“Our goal from the beginning has been to avoid a gap in grocery services on the south side and to make sure the grocery store not only gets built but succeeds in the long run,” District 13 Alder Tag Evers said in a statement. “We’re still confident that we can meet our goals on this project and wish Mariam and Luna’s success in their future efforts.”
“Since the 1950’s there has always been full-service grocery store in South Madison. I am committed to ensuring that tradition carries on for many more years,” Alder Sheri Carter said in a statement.
According to the press release, the City will be reaching out to grocers who have previously expressed interest in this project to secure a grocery store operator for the Truman Olson site.