Neighbors rally around Bernal Heights store 

A group of Bernal Heights neighbors is hoping to take a former liquor store that police claim devolved into a den of drug dealing and corruption and transform it into a produce market.

The property is the former Nasser Market at 511 Crescent St., which allegedly had its liquor license revoked due to false ownership, drug sales and violations of license conditions.

But the future of the little store at the corner of Crescent Avenue and Anderson Street is looking brighter. The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, which has experience building affordable housing in the neighborhood, is negotiating a purchase price with the property owner, said organization Executive Director Joseph Smooke.

If it succeeds, a group of neighbors has big plans for the property. They want to make the store a produce market that sells primarily local produce, including fruits and vegetables grown at the nearby Alemany Farm, the largest urban farm in The City, said Kristin Rothballer, a member of neighborhood group Anderson Safe.

The new produce store would not only provide produce to an underserved neighborhood, but it would act as a job-training site for neighborhood youth, said Deb McDonald, another member of Anderson Safe.

“Last fall, when we saw the for-sale sign go up and we knew that the liquor license had been revoked, we knew there was really an opportunity to do something great for the neighborhood there,” she said.

Smooke said that while there are grocery stores in the north end of Bernal Heights, there are none on the south slope of the neighborhood, which is where the Alemany housing project is located.

“We’d be taking a site that’s historically been a magnet for crime and transforming it into something that meets all these different needs the neighborhood has,” he said.

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