Review by the City of Bloomington
After several months of work with our team and the City of Bloomington Planning Department, we have successfully navigated our first official review of the variance package which is required to move forward with our neighborhood grocery project. In addition to the old K&S building, the half block at Second and Fess presently has residences on it that date back to the early 1900's. Lot lines and current zoning don't match up with some of the existing buildings and a bit of work is required to clean all of this up. Additionally, our redevelopment of this commercial site, that is located in a residential neighborhood, requires a number of variances from both the Plan Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals.
We collaborated with the Elm Heights Neighborhood Association to develop a concept for the site that was compatible with the character and scale of the surrounding homes. A proposal was submitted to the Planning Department and was recently reviewed this past Monday, July 9th, by the Plan Commission. They forwarded a positive recommendation to the Board of Zoning Appeals for our project, calling it a “prime infill opportunity” that will serve to advance the cities Growth Policies Plan, or long-range vision and strategy for the growth of our community.
The Store Takes Shape
Deciding on the shape of the building and where it sits on the lot is just the first part of what will be an extensive design process. We have yet to determine most of the details (everything from what equipment we need to what color we paint the walls) and store designers, architects, structural and mechanical engineers, and designers will work with our internal team to examine every detail of our vision for this neighborhood store. It is during this design process that we will engage both neighborhood residents and our membership to brainstorm amenities they would like to see the store provide.
An important step down this path takes place this week when our store designer, PJ Hoffman, comes to town to work with with several of our staff as well as the Bloomington based design team. He will help us determine the layout of the store, develop a preliminary fixture plan, and discuss equipment that we are considering. This is the first time our entire team will be together in one room; it will be a great chance to talk about the concept for the store and how we will work together to achieve our vision.
Financing our Project
Our work to develop and finalize our finance package for this project continues as well. In addition to conversations with our lenders, we are preparing for the launch of a member loan drive. In 2006, we raised nearly $300,000 from our membership, in the form of loans, for the Near West Side store project. Member loans are an important way that co-ops raise funds for projects like expansions, remodels, and new stores. You can learn more about member loans and the third Cooperative Principle, Economic Participation, in an article from this month's newsletter, Capitalizing the Co-op.
Raising money through our member loan program will be an important part of this project. Our goal is to raise $800,000 in member loans (roughly 30% of the projected, overall project cost) from our more than 10,000 members. We hope that loans will average $5,000, with a minimum loan amount of $1,000. It will be similar to 2006 in that we will offer terms of 4, 5, 6, and 7 years with interest rates ranging from 2%-4%.
While we have a few more hurdles to clear before we can begin our loan drive, we have already heard from many member-owners who hope to participate and have created a pledge form you can use to tell us that you are considering participating and would like to know more about the member loan program. You can fill out the form here.
Our process continues with the review of our variance package by the BZA on Thursday, July 19th 2012 at 5:30pm.
If we remain on track with our current timelines, we will be officially announcing our Member Loan Drive next month.
Keep watching for more updates as we continue to work on making the Elm Heights neighborhood grocery a reality.