Alexandra Green, vice president and director of operations of the Baltimore-based Acquest Group, and Jason Spriggs, Henderson City Councilmember (4th Ward At-Large), appeared on WIZS Town Talk Tuesday at 11 a.m.
Green discussed Acquest’s revitalization plans for the 87,5000 square foot historic tobacco warehouse on Zene Street located within walking distance of downtown Henderson, NC.
Phase One of the project includes the completion of a healthy food market. Deemed a low income and low food access community by the USDA, Green said Henderson qualifies as a “food desert” with many residents relying on SNAP benefits to feed their families.
According to the project’s website (www.hendersontobaccowarehouse.org), in addition to providing the community with fresh, locally-sourced food products, the market will also require a full staff to run day-to-day operations, retail sales and building management.
The Acquest Group estimates that Phase One will employ 40 full-time employees and be open to serve customers at least 80 hours per week, averaging more than $64,000 in weekly SNAP sales and $169,400 in total sales every week.
“This is an exciting opportunity for the east side of Henderson to have access to fresh foods and other opportunities that we’ve been requesting for years,” said Spriggs. “I always tell people that I’m all in, and we are going to see it through.”
Describing Acquest as a family-based development firm in operation for 40 years, Green said community projects such as these are the “lifeblood” of the group.
“We love doing land development; we love building subdivisions and commercial spaces, but what we are passionate about doing is building communities, especially communities of color and low-income areas,” said Green.
Green said the group’s partnerships with the Henderson-Vance County Chamber of Commerce, Henderson City Council, local USDA office and NC Cooperative Extension office, along with the excitement and support of the community, are making this project a reality.
While she admits the timeline is “ambitious,” Green believes construction on the warehouse can begin in early 2021.
To ensure success, Green said the project begins with food security, job availability and economic opportunities with plans to expand to include affordable housing and investment in youth.
“We know this project can’t be successful without a plan to bring up the entire neighborhood,” stated Green. “We don’t see a point in bringing in amenities and services without making an effort to drastically improve the living situation of our neighbors in this community.”
Green continued, “We are dedicated to improving lives, not only through food access but also with affordable and safe housing, improved neighborhood walkability, educational opportunities and with our business incubator and marketplace. We are eager to empower locals to start their own businesses and build generational and community wealth.”