In 2016, the Co-op’s board and our General Manager Doug Johnson began working with Bill Gessner, a co-op consultant who has helped with hundreds of expansions. Bill and Doug toured the area to consider other sites, and then the Co-op spent two years talking to owners about needs, conducting feasibility studies and figuring out renovation costs.
On Friday, January 13th, 2023 the Board of Directors held a Co-op Owner Forum detailing the Capital Campaign and Store Renovation Project!
After years of this work, the Co-op is excited to say that we’re finally at a place where we have an affordable project that will meet the current and future needs of the Co-op and our community. This project has been approved by the Board of Directors and in 2023 we will be launching a capital campaign and beginning construction!
Among the top priorities for the renovation are:
- Reopening the much-missed café and making it better than ever, with new services, new equipment, an updated menu and an improved seating area, while keeping the natural light and materials everyone loves
- Continuing the Shop For Me service, which allows us to expand our accessibility
- Adding an additional 33% retail square footage by relocating offices, prep spaces, coolers and vents to other locations off the sales floor
- Expanding the bulk section with sanitary pull-down handle bins
- Reorganizing the parking lot to make it more pedestrian-friendly
- Investing in our infrastructure to keep the facility safe for all
Watch this space for more information as the project develops, or tune into our board and community meetings for updates.
Want to learn more?
Catch up on the Project and view drafts of the plans in our series “Your Future Co-op”, here: belfast.coop/yourfuturecoop/
The renovation project described above will cost a good deal of money, and the Belfast Community Co-op has three primary sources for funding. One is cash reserves, which we have built up a bit over the last few years. The second part is bank loans. The third is member loans.
The thing that makes co-ops different from other businesses when considering a renovation is that we have the opportunity to go to our owners and ask them to participate in funding the project. Most businesses don’t get to do that.
The Co-op board is currently working with the capital campaign consultant and has hired a coordinator to launch it. We’ll have more information in the coming months. It’s an exciting time, so please stay tuned!