After years of delays, a long-awaited full-service grocery store has opened in the Park DuValle neighborhood in west Louisville.

First Choice Market is a 20,000 square-foot store that will serve an estimated 35,000 residents with a wide-selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, a deli and a bakery. Local grocery operator ValuMarket, which has five other locations in the city, will manage the new store.

Councilwoman Mary Woolridge, D-3, represents the area and says the store opening has been delayed for years, adding more retail development is expected.

“The feedback is very positive and all of us just say we’ve waited a long time and it’s long overdue but we’re just absolutely ecstatic that it’s here now. We are just moving forward and we’re going to have to support that grocery,” she says.

The city and the federal government put in $4.4 million for the project. The money is a combination of city loans, tax credits and stimulus dollars. The store also benefited  from a nearly $1.2 million New Markets Tax Credit equity commitment by U.S. Bank in partnership with Louisville Development Bancorp.

“Access to healthy foods is a top priority for every community, and First Choice Market is a welcome addition to west Louisville,” U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., said in a news release. “This full-service grocery store is a testament to the tremendous growth of Park DuValle, and it's a key investment in the future of this neighborhood.”

Since the Cotter-Lang housing projects were demolished over a decade ago, residents in the Park DuValle neighborhood have been appealing for a grocery store. The mixed-income area lacks other commercial and retail development, but city leaders promise this is a first step.

“This grocery has been a long-awaited addition to the HOPE VI revitalization of the Park DuValle neighborhood, a valuable retail service that the residents have needed and requested,” Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement. “First Choice will not only serve as a valuable anchor tenant for a new retail complex, it will bring needed jobs to the area and also will play a role in creating a healthier neighborhood by making fresh and wholesome foods more easily accessible to residents. I applaud the dedicated team of private and public sector leaders who have made the dream of this store a reality.”

The Metropolitan Sewer District also contributed $147,000 to the project and worked with the developers to construct a building and site that is environmentally friendly with features like pervious pavers and bio-retention basins.

The store’s construction created more than 150 jobs, and 40 permanent jobs were created upon opening.

Woolridge also used $35,000 from her discretionary funds to repair sidewalks surrounding the store and in the area. She says First Choice gives Park DuValle new momentum and should get as much attention as area homicides or shootings.

“I hope it gets as much press as the things that are not so positive in our neighborhood and in our community. The positive things that happen in west Louisville, I don’t know whether the media don’t care or why they don’t carry it, but we just feel good about this and we feel good about these 40 positions,” she says.