About a year ago, word came that the downtown Arts District was getting its own marketplace. Last week, that marketplace became a reality when Urban Radish opened at 660 Mateo St., in the building best known for sporting a giant chipmunk mural.

It's a boon for a neighborhood that, until now, has had no viable grocery options. The market soft-opened on July 4 and will hold its grand opening sometime in August.

The 35,000-square-foot space still feels a little sparse, but a visit early this week gave us an idea of what the market will become. Right now there's a great cheese selection, all manner of high-end groceries, a very pretty produce department, a somewhat sparse meat case and freezer section (which will fill up over the next few weeks) and a range of candies and chocolates.

Still to come: a wine department, which should be taking shape over the next few days, a sandwich and prepared-foods department and, eventually, house-baked breads and pastries. Right now there are breads and pastries being shipped in frozen from France and baked in-house, but eventually the whole process will happen on-site.

Apart from the good cheese and pretty spices presented in huge glass jars on rustic tables, there's another reason to like Urban Radish: It has partnered with Homeboy Industries to give job opportunities to former gang members.

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