Commentary by Adam Aasen
When Marsh decided to close its stores nearly two years ago, we saw the negative impact it had on neighborhoods.
It was tough to see the O’Malia at 126th Street and Gray Road close in July 2017. Neighbors desperately miss that store.
I don’t want to overplay this situation, because I know there are neighborhoods where there truly are food deserts. In Carmel, we are fortunate to have many thriving businesses.
The nearby Kroger and Meijer supermarkets are both very busy, and so I believe there is room for another option. A city that’s growing like Carmel needs more options.
There is no grocery store east of Keystone in Carmel, and there might not be too many other locations where one could go other than the old O’Malia spot. It presents a great opportunity because it was not the location that led to the business closing.
I’m a firm believer in the free market. In capitalism, sometimes you have winners and sometimes you have losers. Sometimes businesses expand and thrive and other times they fail and go out of business.
I don’t believe the government needs to meddle too much in the free market. But there are times when a free market failure can be the concern of the entire community.
I believe the O’Malia vacancy could become a community concern the longer it stays empty.
This vacancy could have a negative effect on the surrounding storefronts, most of which are still filled and operating.
City leaders tell me that there’s an agreement to purchase this shopping center, and work is being done to bring in another tenant.
Just to be clear, my purpose is not to criticize the city’s efforts on this issue. I know that Mayor Jim Brainard and councilors Ron Carter, Kevin “Woody” Rider, Jeff Worrell and Sue Finkam are working tirelessly to try to address this issue. This is a private piece of property and there are factors out of their control. But I am confident they are showing leadership on this issue. I realize many nearby residents are wanting to know what will happen, but these things take time and I am sure once our council has any information, they will let us know.
I’m encouraged by that news and I want to let any companies out there know that this location is ideal for a neighborhood-based business, ideally a grocery store.
A slight facelift might be needed, but a complete teardown isn’t necessary. This is a great location that just needs a little love and the right tenant.
There’s so much community desire to see a grocery store there that it boggles my mind that some company hasn’t jumped in and claimed that spot.
I believe a new grocery store would be successful if managed properly. Just come out and talk to residents. They’ll tell you how much they miss that store.
Adam Aasen is a candidate for the Carmel city council’s southeast district.