PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Could a vacant building on Smithfield Street, that once was the glamorous home of the sparkle and shine of a Saks Fifth Avenue, soon be home to milk, eggs and “do you have your advantage card?”

Or how about the food court in the lower level of PPG?

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The answer is maybe, as Giant Eagle, the area’s largest grocery store chain, considers new possible locations – including maybe one in downtown Pittsburgh.

“Yes, they’re interested,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, “as well as some other companies in responding to the market that is downtown.”

Hardly a commitment from the grocer, but at least an interest — and that’s enough to get some shoppers excited.

“Oh I prefer Giant Eagle,” said downtown shopper Karen Little. “I’ve always been a Giant Eagle shopper.”

“A Giant Eagle is one of the best things that could ever happen to downtown,” said downtown shopper William Painter. “A lot of people who work down here can’t make it to the North Side, or the Giant Eagle on the South Side.”

And a grocery store downtown at this time might just make good business sense. According to research done by the Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership on any given day, 126,000 people come into downtown every day and 9,000 people live there.

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“The demand is there and as the demand continues to grow, I do think you’re going to see grocery stores that want to come and come into downtown Pittsburgh.” Fitzgerald said.

In a recent survey by the Downtown Partnership, people who live downtown were asked: what amenities would you like to see in your neighborhood? A little more than 40 percent said a grocery store.

And 47 percent of the people who come into downtown – and responded to another survey – said the store brand they wanted to see was Giant Eagle.

“I don’t think I would actually shop in it because I live in the suburbs,” said Ron Retsch who works downtown.

All Giant Eagle is saying at this point is:

We continually evaluate opportunities for growth across all of our markets. While there are no confirmed plans for a new downtown Pittsburgh location, we are intrigued by the city’s population growth and the countless number of commercial developments.

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Lynne Hayes-Freeland