Northgate Gonzalez Receives FreshWorks Loan

119,000 people in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego, California now have better access to fresh and healthy foods near their homes.

The California FreshWorks Fund (CFWF), managed by NCB Capital Impact, disbursed $8.5 million in New Markets Tax Credit financing for tenant improvements and other costs related to the development of a new 42,625 square foot, full-service Northgate Gonzalez Market. The new store also created 122 new jobs.

“It takes resourcefulness, determination, and a whole lot of cooperation to resolve complex issues facing low and moderate income communities,” commented Scott Sporte, Chief Lending Officer at NCB Capital Impact. “In this case, to get healthy foods closer to home for 119,000, it meant combining the resources and dedication of a local grocery operator, a foundation, and several financial institutions.”

This is the first loan made by CFWF, a loan and grant fund that has raised $264 million to invest in bringing grocery stores and other forms of healthy food retailers to underserved communities throughout California. In the coming months, the CFWF is poised to make several grants and affordable loans to fresh food retail projects in California communities with limited access to healthy food.

For this store in City Heights, Northgate Gonzalez Market, Northgate Gonzalez Real Estate, The California Endowment, JP Morgan Chase, and NCB Capital Impact worked together to structure an affordable financing package that met the unique needs of the borrower and project.

“The financing from California FreshWorks was critical to the success of the new Northgate Gonzalez Market in the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego,” said Miguel Gonzalez, President, Northgate Gonzalez Market. “The FreshWorks concept is an innovative and powerful way to bring quality foods to underserved communities, and we are honored to be the first commercial partner for this program.”

Northgate Gonzalez Market is a family-owned chain of supermarkets that was started by the Gonzalez family in 1980. It currently operates 33 stores located in the southern California counties of Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego. Northgate’s markets are full service supermarkets, focused on serving predominately Latino communities with high quality produce, meats, and specialty departments serving fresh bakery, tortillas, and prepared foods.

“New Markets Tax Credit financing is a critically important piece to many economic development projects like Northgate Gonzalez Market,” said Matt Reilein, senior vice president, Chase. “At Chase, our focus is to use NMTC to support projects that provide access to healthcare services and healthy foods in low-income communities we serve.”

The CFWF helped make the supermarket possible by providing access to alternative financing options, and offers incentives to invest in projects located in low supermarket access areas.

“Too many California communities have limited access to fresh and healthy food. Today – with the close of this deal – we’ve given an underserved community the chance to make health happen in their neighborhood,” said CEO of lead partner The California Endowment Robert K. Ross, M.D.