Food Desert Grocery Store

City of Ocala

Ocala, FL

The City is seeking a highly-qualified business operator or developer who will build a small-scale, full-service affordable grocery store with healthy food options on a 2.56-acre city-owned site which previously housed a police substation at the SW corner of W Silver Springs Boulevard and SW 24th Avenue. This site is located within a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)- designated food desert and a full-service grocery store will satisfy a critical need in the community. The USDA designated this area as a food desert in 2010, highlighting the lack of community access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food that has persisted to the present day. Food deserts are defined as low-income Census Tracts in which a significant number of residents live greater than a mile from the nearest supermarket, supercenter, or large grocery store.

The site is within the West Ocala Subarea of the Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) and is thereby eligible for a number of economic development tools that could potentially offset redevelopment costs.

The site is also within a USDA-designated food desert, which makes a grocery store project eligible for special financing with lower interest rates through the Florida's Healthy Food Financing Initiative (FL HFFI) that was established in 2016 by the Florida Legislature and facilitated by the Florida Community Loan Fund (FCLF), a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). FL HFFI was developed to provide financial assistance to construct, rehabilitate, or expand independent grocery stores to increase access to fresh produce and other nutritious food in underserved and low-income communities. FL HFFI is a component of FCLF's existing Food Access Program, which is a collaborative effort involving a variety of funding sources. Eligibility for FL HFFI enhanced financing will be determined based on project metrics, need, and consistency with the FL HFFI criteria. FL HFFI is one of several tools available through FCLF's Food Access Program that this project may be eligible for.

This site is also within a qualified Census Tract for the New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) Program, making federal tax credits available for significant investments of at least $6 million within the community. Through the NMTC Program, the CDFI Fund allocates tax credit authority to Community Development Entities (CDEs). There are many certified CDEs throughout Florida. Some of them operate regionally, but many of them operate statewide. CDEs are financial intermediaries through which private capital flows from an investor to a qualified business located in a low-income community. CDEs use their authority to offer tax credits to investors in exchange for equity in the CDE. Using the capital from these equity investments, CDEs can make loans and investments to businesses operating in low-income communities on better rates and terms and more flexible features than the market.

The City is willing to consider developer incentives if justifiably needed. Suggested and required incentives must be identified and quantified for this site. The rationale for each incentive desired must be explained sufficiently to justify its need. The City will not consider incentives requested as compensation for risk. Incentives must be tied to the project's economic feasibility and the proposer's ability to produce the desired results. Other than a potential CRA grant, the City does not have the ability to provide short-term cash incentives or project financing. When necessary, proposers should carefully consider incentive options that would provide long-term but equivalent return to the proposer that are based upon win/win scenarios for the proposer and the City.

The proposal should outline the conceptual design of the proposed development, including a site layout, floor plan, and architectural elevations or precedent images for the exterior of the building(s). Proposals may include accessory uses, but the primary use shall be a full-service grocery store with healthy food options that is at least 15,000 square feet in size. Proposals may be submitted by either a developer or a grocery store business operator, but a developer respondent must be partnering with a grocery store to provide reasonable assurance to the City that requirements of the RFP related to business operation will be met.

Link to full RFP:

Link to bid page:

Request Type
Tuesday, April 30, 2019