The Fresh Market Inc., a specialty grocery chain based in North Carolina, is expected to be one of the retail uses planned for an area near 31st Street and Ingersoll Avenue on several properties purchased in recent years by developer Richard Hurd. 


Hurd would not comment on any specifics about the project, other than to say that retail is a planned use for the development.


Crews have been demolishing houses and clearing land for development on the west side of 31st and just north of its intersection with Ingersoll.


Brokers have said that The Fresh Market has looked at Greater Des Moines for at least the last six years. The 31st and Ingersoll area would be the type of location preferred by the the company, providing a relatively high volume of traffic and access to shoppers with disposable income.


"Their target demographic is highly educated, middle income and up. ... They are popular with senior citizens," said a person who is familiar with the company. "They like Des Moines a lot."


The company focuses more on demographics than on local competition, the person said. The 31st and Ingersoll area fits the demographic, the person said.


The Fresh Market focuses on what one broker said was "high-quality" fresh foods. About 75 percent of its grocery items are made up of individual product lines consisting of fresh meats, cheeses and produce.


"You will find very few boxes in a Fresh Market," the broker said.


A spokesman for The Fresh Market could not be reached for comment. The company's lone Iowa location is in Cedar Rapids, where a store opened Oct. 1 in a shuttered Kmart.


The Fresh Market stores typically run 20,000 square feet, and the company will go into existing structures as well as new buildings.


On Nov. 20, the company reported third-quarter net income of $14.9 million, up from $11.1 million in the third quarter of fiscal 2013. Net sales for the third quarter of fiscal 2014 increased 15 percent to $419.5 million and comparable store sales increased 3.3 percent to $350.3 million from the year-ago period.


According to its website, The Fresh Market was founded in 1982 in Greensboro, N.C. and now has more than 100 stores in 20 states.