Someone new is interested in running Arthur’s Market, the community center of the Stockade neighborhood, but residents aren’t celebrating the news.
Mohammed Alazani wants to rent the building and open it as a convenience store. But he’s never run a store before and he doesn’t know anything about the close-knit neighborhood the market has served for decades.
When asked if he lived in the Stockade, he said, “The what?”
Residents there aren’t ecstatic. They have watched three business owners fail in attempts to reopen the neighborhood’s gathering spot. More recently, they organized a committee to vet potential buyers and find someone with the experience and capital to keep the small market running.
Alazani isn’t on their list — and there are others who may be a better fit, committee member Connie Colangelo said.
“We’re exploring several prospects that are very interesting,” she said. “They’re interested in opening it up like the old-time Arthur’s Market.”
The committee is taking experience and likelihood for success into consideration, while gauging neighborhood support for various plans. So far, Colangelo said, it appears most residents want a community market, not a convenience store.
“We’re looking for a mom-and-pop store,” she said. “I would prefer a resident because then they’d have a vested interest in the community. We do have prospects.”
For his part, Alazani said he isn’t sure what he’s getting into.
He’s never run a convenience store before.
“I worked at a store once,” he said, before adding that he doesn’t know much about the capital investment needed to stock the shelves.
“I just want to do a business there,” he said. “I like the location: there’s no stores there.”
Joyce and Artur Wachala, who own the building and were the last to try to run the market, have agreed to lease it to Alazani. He has applied for permission from the city Planning Commission to open the store. The commission will hear his plans on April 20 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.
Joyce Wachala said she wasn’t sure exactly how Alazani heard about the market.
“I don’t know him very well. I think he just passed by,” she said, before adding that she thinks the market must change to stay afloat.
“The fact of the matter is it’s a different economy now. It’s not the way it used to be. There’s a Wal-Mart down the street,” she said, referring to the Wal-Mart in Glenville. “I’m not sure exactly what’s going to fit there.”
But she added that nothing has been decided yet.
“Nothing is set in stone,” she said. “The prior [tenant], that never came to fruition. We were burned once, so I don’t know what’s going to happen now.”
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