Construction begins on bigger store
There was a great turnout at the groundbreaking for our bigger new store and the rain even held off during the ceremony. Board members, city officials, shoppers, neighbors, local officials and construction workers were all there as we broke ground with green shovels. The event celebrated the official start of construction.
“The city has been instrumental in the project, including a complex land use process, getting permits on time and also decades ago having a vision to turn the closed-down Astoria Plywood Mill (a worker’s co-op), into a new mixed use development to serve Astoria,” Co-op Marketing Director Zetty Nemlowill said, as she introduced City of Astoria Mayor Bruce Jones.
Jones congratulated all on the co-op team for the vision and hard work to reach this point.
“As mayor there’s no more important economic development priority for me than encouraging and facilitating growth of locally-owned businesses, especially those using locally sourced materials and benefitting our community,” Jones said.
Jones said it’s fantastic that those from the surrounding mixed neighborhood—with apartments, single family homes and senior living—will be able to walk to the grocery store. He then introduced our new board president, Andrea Larson Perez.
“This is the culmination of five years of due diligence that has been put on by board, staff and the community. At every turn we have invited participation, received it and incorporated everything that we’ve collected from all the stakeholders. I’m so proud of our organization,” Perez said.
Perez has been a co-op shopper, employee, board member, and now leads the board. Perez introduced our other board members in attendance before handing the microphone to our general manager, Matt Stanley, who she credits with working for the co-op for more than 10 years and seeing the expansion project through.
Stanley said it was an awesome turnout despite the weather and thanked the co-op board, staff, city staff public officials, developer partners, and investors. The co-op raised more than $1.6 million from its owners in just eight weeks.
“This is truly a grassroots project. It’s not unlike 45 years ago when a small group of people came together to build a small storefront to provide something that none of them as individuals could do. Even though we’re going to have a new and efficient building for the next evolution of the co-op, we’re still owned and directed by our community,” Stanley said.
The new facility will be about four times bigger than the current store, and Stanley says it will be more accessible and welcoming, increase impact to the local economy and local food system, and improve access to healthy food choices in the region. There will be more space to shop, expanded fresh departments and a full service deli with indoor-outdoor seating, and 48 parking spaces.
Stanley said R & H Construction out of Portland is overseeing the project and local contractors are going to complete most of the work including Big River Construction, Terry’s Plumbing, and Bogh Electric.
The new store will result in the creation of about 30 fulltime equivalent jobs with an average wage of $16 an hour with benefits. He encouraged the community to follow the co-op’s web page for future job postings as we get closer to an opening date, which he hopes, will be in time for the holidays.
Clad with hardhats and green shovels, Stanley joined board members, the mayor and city councilors and the construction superintendent to break ground.
“Here we go! New food co-op, best coop on the west coast coming up,” Stanley said.
The new store, an approximate 12,000 square foot building at 23rd and Marine Drive, will replace the current co-op store at 1355 Exchange. The store will remain open during construction and Stanley asked for the community’s support, by shopping and/or taking part in investment opportunities which are still available.
During the event, site surveying was happening to provide data needed to start excavation and site prep on Monday, so expect to see construction as you drive by and look for regular updates on social media and our web site.