Neighborhood-Scale Grocery Stores Keep Austin Stocked in a Pandemic


Well-known member
Dec 12, 2018
Austinites looking to avoid waiting in line at the major grocery stores limiting their occupancy during the coronavirus pandemic are likely discovering just how useful it is to have a small grocery store or bodega with staple items available within walking distance of their homes. Local outlets like Fresh Plus, Wheatsville Co-Op, and Royal Blue Grocery are feeding the city without crowds and lines, since small stores inside neighborhoods don’t attract big-box traffic. Even some local restaurants are extending takeout beyond their menus and selling common pantry items to go.

But even though it seems we’re all thankful for these smaller operations in the thick of a crisis, the establishment of new neighborhood-scale grocery outlets in Austin is currently limited by the hamfisted zoning definitions of our city’s current land development code, and many properties that would otherwise be suitable for grocery stores are constrained by deed restrictions limited to non-commercial uses.

As the city struggles to update its code for the first time since the 1980s, District 1 Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison recently proposed an amendment to the new draft that would, in her words, “Consider opportunities for interior neighborhood commercial spaces to offer walkable access to basic amenities such as but not limited to daycares, pharmacies, neighborhood groceries, restaurants, and civic spaces.”


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