Mortgage crisis to blame for upscale grocery closing - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Mortgage crisis to blame for upscale grocery closing

Market on Market, the upscale downtown grocery and deli is closing. The owner says the mortgage crisis is partly to blame.

Dustin von Wheeler says construction delays in several downtown condominium projects left him with fewer customers than he anticipated. The lack of revenue will force him to close his doors after two years in business.

"We're not exactly sure how long it will be before we have to close our doors but that day is coming," said Dustin von Wheeler

Dustin von Wheeler says there is a risk associated with opening any new business.

"We were banking on the Mercantile lofts being filled up by this point. We were banking on the Fleur de Lis being filled up by this point," said von Wheeler.

He says the numbers just aren't there and believes the nation's sub-prime mortgage crisis slowed the movement of tenants into downtown. Some construction projects, like the Fleur De Lis condominiums, were delayed but should have occupants soon.

Von Wheeler believes he was dealt a huge blow when RiverPark Place, a 600-unit development, was delayed in January because of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. He feels this development would have brought him customers.

A check with city records shows many of these developments have occupants but are not full. For example, at Waterfront Park Place nearly two-thirds of units have been sold. And the city's economic development department says recent studies show there is demand for groceries in the downtown area. So why did Market on Market fail?

"There are things going on. It's just not moving along at a pace in which a business like this that depends on volume can really sustain at this point," said von Wheeler.

But others like Bill Scherer, a partner in the Fleur de Lis development, believe Market on Market could have succeeded if it had sold different products or if the city had provided more help. Von Wheeler owes the state back taxes and the city $30,000, the remainder of a $50,000 loan.

"In this case they were able to succeed for about two years, but there are three years left in that commitment and so they will owe that money back to the city," said John Fischer, Economic Development Department.

To pay off his debt's, he will have to sell his house.

"Unfortunately, we have to lose that house that we worked very hard for. However, that's the risk you take in business," said von Wheeler.

Von Wheeler says despite all this, there is a silver lining. He plans to relocate his deli business to another section of downtown by the end of the year.

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