By Brandon Kane, General Manager
It’s been nearly two years since GreenStar signed its first memorandum of understanding with our developer in order to pursue the feasibility of the expansion and relocation of our West End store and campus. Since then, the activity to pursue this project has barely ceased. I’m delighted to report that, as of mid-January 2019, the pre-construction work on our new store has begun! We’re right on track to open the doors to GreenStar at 770 Cascadilla St. in February 2020.
In this article, there are a number of items to review that have gotten us to our current point, and other issues to consider for the next stages of this development. First, I’d like to point out some recent redirections related to design. The original draft store design had a total footprint of about 36,000 square feet — once we finished renovating the former Cornell warehouse to serve as both our new West End retail store and the administrative hub for our cooperative enterprise. This included a large (almost 7,000 SF) additional mezzanine for offices; 1,000 SF for a community room; and 16,500 SF of retail floor. Over the past few months, we’ve determined that the full scope of the draft design cannot be developed to conform to GreenStar’s budget allowance.
As a result, our expansion team needed to reduce the scope of design to fit our budget while minimizing the impact on the co-op retail store as much as possible. Many design tweaks later, we have settled on a new floor plan, which you can see here. The only resulting change that will impact our shoppers and owners is the reduction of the size of our community space. When we looked at reducing scope, it quickly became apparent that we could not reduce our retail footprint. We cannot afford to lose any projected retail sales growth, as that serves as the basis for our long-term financial plans and obligations.
The addition of a mezzanine inside the renovated warehouse was expensive, but necessary to house our basic administrative needs. Reducing the size of the mezzanine was the only significant reduction we saw in construction scope that would bring the project back into budget. We then determined that we could halve the size of the mezzanine by locating half of our offices on the ground floor, in space originally designated for a community room.
The resulting design preserves the original retail footprint and includes a reduced two-story office area adjacent to a smaller community room. This reconceived community area can seat about 33 people (down from the previous 108) and includes a teaching kitchen and a/v projection setup. The new design also retains an adjacent outdoor patio for public gatherings, which could serve as an expanded community room when more development funds are available to the Co-op in the future. Along with the remaining team behind this expansion, I fully realize that this is a resource loss for our cooperative community. We appreciate your understanding that GreenStar is making the utmost effort to deliver the highest possible excellence in our cooperative expansion, with the highest probability of success.
Now that construction has begun and we’ve driven the project back on budgetary track, we can lend more focus to wrapping up the financing of the project. Our Capital Campaign for Member Investment is progressing nicely. As of mid-January, you and your fellow GreenStar owners have invested more than $525,000! Our goal is to surpass $1.5 million by June 1, 2019 — so we have at least $1 million more to go. We need our owners to rally around this project and continue to invest in our cooperative growth.
GreenStar recently signed a contract with Delaware River Solar to provide 100% solar electricity to our co-op by spring of 2019! The power will be generated on local solar farms. GreenStar owners can join in and also Grow Solar while contributing to our expansion funding at the same time. Find out more by clicking here.
Each day we get a little closer to realizing the expanded GreenStar. Our new store will deliver an unmatched shopping experience to our community with an equal emphasis on service and selection. We will be your one-stop shop for local and international foods. Thank you for joining us in this mission to bring our collective dream to life.