- Maria Halkias, Dallas Morning News

Ben Novak has lived in Uptown for about 10 years, and for the first seven or so he liked the convenience of having a grocery store within walking distance of his apartment in the McKinney Avenue and Blackburn Street area.

And Novak said he used the Albertsons —which then briefly became a Minyard Sun Fresh Market — often. Then the supermarket, located on Lemmon and McKinney avenues, closed in 2016.

“I don’t understand why it’s still sitting empty. It’s such a valuable piece of real estate,” Novak said. “It seems like everything else has been developed and there are all sorts of new apartment buildings.”

Which means there are even more people in the neighborhood like Novak who would walk (or drive or take the trolley) to that store to pick up groceries.

Novak, 32, submitted his question to Curious Texas, an ongoing projectfrom The Dallas Morning News that invites you to become part of the newspaper business by giving us some assignments. The idea is simple: You have questions, and our journalists track down answers.

The good news is that a new grocery store is planned for that spot on McKinney.

H-E-B bought the store when it closed and immediately said it planned to reopen it as a Central Market. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer as to when.

“All I can tell you at this point is we are in [the] design phase with the developer and look forward to bringing our customers a true culinary destination,” said Mabrie Jackson, a spokeswoman for H-E-B and Central Market in Dallas.

That phrase from the Central Market folks — “a true culinary destination” — raises all kinds of expectations. H-E-B is planning to open its sixth Central Market in Dallas-Fort Worth this summer in a former Albertsons it bought at West Northwest Highway and Midway Road. It’s also working on a Central Market location in the Bishop Arts area of Oak Cliffwhich it purchased last year. And it’s adding curbside service to its Lovers Lane store.

Not to make excuses for San Antonio-based H-E-B and its Dallas-based Central Market division, but they are privately held companies that can afford to work at their own pace. The family- and employee-owned businesshas become one of the largest regional grocers in the U.S. with sales last year of $23 billion. It operates 400 stores in Texas and Mexico.

In the meantime, Uptown residents, there’s the Whole Foods Market on McKinney, the Walmart Neighborhood Market on the frontage road of North Central Expressway and the Kroger and Target stores at Cityplace. Plus, two Tom Thumb stores are coming.

Tom Thumb will open soon in the ground floor of the 22-story Union building at Field Street and Cedar Springs Road. And another Tom Thumb opens in Deep Ellum in 2019 in The Gabriella, a 10-story apartment building on Live Oak Street.