Just as the sun was coming up one early morning in June, an excited crowd gathered outside the shiny new Publix grocery store in the Summerhill neighborhood. The grand opening was hailed as the end to a pervasive food-desert that created obstacles for residents.
But the success story was recently marred by the startling collapse of the top level of the connected parking deck under the weight of a crane truck.
The company that owns the retail complex said that the driver “drove a crane truck onto the upper level of the deck past the weight-limit warning signs.” The driver was taken to a hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening, police said. No other injuries were reported.
The accident shuttered the new store and reignited concerns over food access for the rapidly growing mix-use district that was once home to the Atlanta Braves.
Council member Jason Winston, who represents that area, said that the community was understandably shaken.
“This location has quickly become an important resource for the surrounding neighborhoods, especially since it was without a nearby grocery store for so long,” he said.
The new Publix at 572 Hank Aaron Dr. not only provided food access to an underserved area but also a pharmacy and an urgent care.
“Our administration is concerned about the impact this incident will have on the safety and access to food and pharmacy services in this community,” said Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens after the accident.
Dickens said in a statement released Sunday that while there is no current timeline for reopening, plans for a full or partial re-opening are being reviewed by private companies involved.
“Our administration takes this matter very seriously and the City will provide more updates as they become available,” he said.
A spokesperson for Publix said that the company is working with law enforcement and the city on the investigation into the incident.
“The safety of our associates and customers is a top priority for Publix, so at this time, our store will remain closed,” said Nicole Krauss, media relations manager for the grocery store chain.