Business owners sound off about Fresh Market Grocery store proposal

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Business owners Richard Levin and Claus Ihlemann have worked a generation to build up Norfolk`s 21st Street. They say it`s great that a Fresh Market grocery store and a medical office might soon replace vacant buildings and a scrubby parking lot there. Excellent tenants, they say, with a top-notch developer doing the work.

The city is proposing to sell the three and a half acres valued at $2.5 million, for just $500,000. And the city will give back to the developer $250,000 in demolition costs. That, says these business owners, means a developer will snatch up this property for just a quarter-million, or about a tenth of its value.

With a thick stack of documents, city planners say this is a good deal for Norfolk. The developer will invest more than $10 million for the grocery store and medical building. And that equals $185,000 in city revenue each year.

Plus, they say, they`ve wanted to re-develop this land for years, and no one stepped up.

Levin and Ihlemann say they would have, and did, offer much more money for the property. They said they didn`t know the city wanted to sell until after this deal was struck.