New study shows grocery store needed in Melrose/Orange Avenue area

ROANOKE, Va. – The Melrose/Orange Avenue area is in need of a full-service grocery store. That's the sentiment shared by neighbors and a new financial study driven by local nonprofits and organizations. 

"We did determine that the market is there to make a grocery store viable in the area," said Chris Chittum, director of planning, building and development for the city of Roanoke. 

Invest Health says their research makes it official. The Melrose/Orange Avenue area is operating as a food desert.

"A lot of the grocery stores in our core neighborhoods have really gotten bigger and moved out to the suburbs," said Chittum.

That means people who live close to downtown have limited access to food, especially fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. Right now, the neighborhood has Food Giant, a couple dollar stores and convenience stores to rely on, but many say that's not enough. 

"For those companies that have tried this neighborhood, we say thank you but we need more choices, expanded opportunities for people to choose an apple versus a bag of salty chips or oranges versus some sugary drink," said Shaun Arthur, pastor of Melrose Avenue Seventh-day Adventist Church. 

While nothing is official and the market study results are still in the discussion phase, local organizations say this is a start. They hope to use this information to attract interest from possible developers and investors.