Nonprofit proposes downtown grocery store
A local food co-op is proposing a $3.5-million grocery store inside a mixed-use development underway downtown.
Linda Jones, president of the Grand Rapids Food Co-op, or GRFC, said today the group is hoping to locate a 10,000-square-foot grocery store and café inside the Tapestry Square development at South Division Avenue and Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids.
Tapestry Square is a multi-million-dollar development by the Grand Rapids-based Inner City Christian Federation, or ICCF, a nonprofit developer.
ICCF said it is considering proposals to occupy the space from “a number of organizations,” but so far, no agreement has been signed.
Jones said the co-op is eyeing neighborhood for the grocery store because it is a “traditionally underserved area.”
The co-op first needs to make “significant strides” in growing its member ownership in 2019. Jones said the co-op currently has 150 member-owners and needs to have 1,000 by the end of the year to begin construction in 2020.
“After we reach that threshold, we’ll offer an owner investment opportunity and that will be for about $1.2 million,” Jones said. “We’ll raise capital as loans or preferred shares, then we’ll pursue commercial loans and grants, then start architecture and design for the store and hire staff, including a GM and project manager (for the build out).”
GRFC hopes to open the store at the same time Tapestry Square is completed, with construction starting and finishing in 2020.
The cooperatively run grocery store will aim to fill “a variety of needs” in Grand Rapids, including “improved access to healthy and affordable foods, increased support of local farms, educational opportunities surrounding health and wellness and neighborhood solidarity.”
To become member-owners, households or individuals must purchase a $250 ownership share. The cost can be paid in full or via installments over a 10-month period. Low- and fixed-income memberships are also available.
Members receive voting rights that allow them to attend board meetings and elect and/or recall the board of directors. They will also receive profit shares when the business becomes profitable.
“We think this is an amazing opportunity, and we hope the community joins us, so this co-op grocery store can take advantage of this (location),” Jones said.
Grand Rapids Food Co-op
GRFC is a nonprofit founded in 2016 with the intent to open “a cooperative, full-service grocery store in or near the city center.”
Its board of directors includes Jason Herlands, Catherine Gage, Ayanfe Free, Eddie Jenkins Jr., Nancie Jenner, Scott Urbanowski, Katy Johnson-Kozol and Joshua Kruis.
Since the 1980s, ICCF has been pursuing redevelopment of the four-block area known as the Tapestry Square area. It is bordered by Wealthy Street, South Division Avenue, La Grave Avenue and Buckley Street.
The Tapestry Square development has been in the planning and preparation stage for about a decade, and construction is set to begin in 2020.
GRFC is proposing its store will be in the ground-floor retail space of the seven-story Tapestry Square senior living facility, which will be built on the site with 84 units, with 50 being reserved for affordable housing.