Looks like they won’t be turning over a new leaf after all.
Among those arrested by federal DEA agents and Syracuse Police on Wednesday, Nov. 20, was the father-and-son team that had planned to open a convenience store at Oxford Street and Midland Avenue. After executing a search warrant at the T&S Deli, a.k.a. the Honey Market, at 1223 Butternut St, officials arrested Abdalqader Mansour, 46, and his son, Rasheed Mansour, 23, along with two other family members. The Palestinian immigrants were among 10 people charged with peddling synthetic marijuana from behind the counter at nine shoddy convenience stores across the city.
In April, the Mansours purchased a run-down print shop on the South Side and told city officials that their proposed A&R Market would offer fresh vegetables and halal meats to a neighborhood without easy access to fresh food. Neighbors who had in recent years struggled to shut down the nearby A Shack market–a haven for drug dealing, food stamp fraud and money laundering–were up in arms and pressured the city to stop the project. Protest rallies in June sparked a citywide crackdown on code violations at corner stores.
Yet as recently as October, the architect working with the Mansours, Tom Ditullio, told the Syracuse New Times that plans were moving forward and it was possible the new store would open in November. Dubious city officials had given the Mansours 30 days to fix a crumbling retaining wall that bordered Onondaga Creek, and neighbors had seen no signs that construction was under way.
Contacted by The Syracuse New Times for comment five days after the Mansours were arrested, Ditullio was unaware that his clients face federal charges. “That does put a crimp in things,” he said upon learning the news.
In June, a New Times story about the T&S Deli described the store thus: “Outside the Butternut Street store, a broken neon sign hangs, advertising the Honey Market. A sign on the wall says T&S Market, but the largest sign of all says, ‘Bill Pay – Beer –Lotto.’ The gated door is open, and the cashier is hidden behind a Plexiglas barrier. The inventory consists of packages of chips, cookies, canned soups and coolers with soda, beer, milk and cheese. You can get a lotto ticket or cigarettes there, but no fresh vegetables.”
With the Mansours’ arrest on federal drug charges, neighbors expect they have seen the last of the proposal for the store at Oxford and Midland.