Demolition permits issued for closed eastside OKC grocery
The former Buy for Less shopping center at NE 23 and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue appears to be targeted for demolition, with permits filed at City Hall for the closed grocery and adjacent stores.
Susan Binkowski, owner of Esperanza Real Estate, the development arm of Uptown Grocery and other stores in the chain run by her husband, Hank, originally proposed building an all new Uptown Grocery and shopping center at the corner.
That announcement, made six years ago, stalled as the Binkowskis and city officials hit an impasse on additional public assistance for the project. The grocery was closed in August, and after protests by community leaders, the Binkowskis indicated they would reopen their store in the former Sav-A-Lot at NE 36 and Kelley Avenue.
The demolition permits for the former Buy for Less, renamed Smart Saver in 2016, were approved on Monday.
Susan Binkowski could not be reached for comment. The company’s Facebook page indicates that as of December they were proceeding with plans for a store at NE 36 and Kelley.
Mayor David Holt said the MAPS 4 ballot sales tax approved by voters in December envisions using up to $5 million from the beautification funding to buy and clear the Binkowskis’ corner as part of an effort to revive the main corridor for the city’s black population.
“It’s such a prominent corner of that part of the city,” Holt said. “There will be the Clara Luper Center across the street, funding for sidewalks and place-making. You also will have a Ralph Ellison statue, presumably at the library at the corner … and now funding for the northeast corner. There are a lot of pieces that are intended to remake the area which has always been thought of as the heart of the community but has not always reflected that.”