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A landmark grocer store at the corner of Bladen and North streets is closing and taking with it a bit of Beaufort's Historic District lore. The closing of the six-decade-old Koth's Grocery store also signals a change in the face of the city.'
While youth soccer players lament the loss of the Icee machine, adults and kids alike will have to find another supplier for the South's delectable snack, Jimmy Koth's boiled peanuts. The closing signals community growth of a sort.'
People lament that they want a neighborhood grocery, but they also want the convenience and variety offered by big-box grocery stores. Businesses need people to survive. When the nearby junior high school closed 20 years ago, and the county courthouse moved to the government complex on Ribaut Road, many customers also left the area. They discovered convenience elsewhere.'
The store's closing also signals an opportunity for many to see dramatic change in the Bladen Street corridor, which was discussed extensively last fall. City leaders said in November that corridor improvements anticipated three years ago might come to fruition by the summer of 2006, if all plans fall into place.'
Already visitors to the Northwest Quadrant can see gentrification easing into their neighborhood. Some houses are priced at nearly $300,000. Change is inevitable. Last fall some saw an opportunity for the city to use its $1 million in the Urban Development and Assistance Grant funds to help improve several blocks either side of Bladen Street. The original intent of the fund was for it to be used for neighborhood revitalization and economic development for low- and moderate-income residents.'
The closing of Koth's Grocery offers an opportunity for community leaders to exercise their imaginations again. The area has numerous assets that are beneficial to the city. They shouldn't allow an opportunity for community planning to escape.