The hunt for a new home for the Kootenay Co-op has come to an end.
The Co-op announced on Sunday that after nearly six years of shopping they have entered into a contract to purchase property where Extra Foods currently is.
“Initially when we were planning to lease that facility a couple years back being a project manager would have meant just creating the co-op within that facility now that we’ve purchased the site it’s going to mean identifying what are the possible options for us in terms of how we might develop that,” said project manager for the Co-op Russell Precious.
Over the past three years the Co-op has been in conversation with Extra Foods and despite discussing lease options they decided to buy the property instead.
“When we were going to lease it we were looking at spending upwards of $3 million just to get into that site and then we were going to be paying a very high rent which would steadily increase over the years,” said Precious. “When we looked at those numbers we realized we could afford our own building and that was our preference.”
Precious said that the Co-op has been in its current location on Baker and Kootenay Streets for 20 years.
In the move the Co-op isn’t just gaining 11,000 square feet, they are also getting their own parking for the first time.
“When you look at the statistics for successful grocery stores it’s impressive that the Co-op does as well as it does considering it has no parking,” said Precious. “There are obviously people who shop on foot, but most people when they do serious shopping they drive in their car up to the front. There are many people that I know who will drive around the block once or twice and then drive down the hill to Save on Foods.”
Precious said that the old building is outdated and will require some upgrades to make it more environmentally friendly and energy efficient.
“We’ll also be looking at the possibility of redeveloping the entire site in a more comprehensive manner which would include a residential component and possibly other retailers,” he said.
The Co-op is looking at how the site fits with the community as a whole and as they develop the property are considering a residential element.
“We’ll be investing but given that it’s our building we’ll be borrowing money instead of paying rent,” said Precious. “We’ll have a mortgage on the building but when you crunch the numbers what we would have been paying in rent we can pay on the mortgage.”
In the new location there are opportunities for new departments and products but Precious said there is a possibility that parts of the building could be sectioned off and developed for other retailers.
In preparation for the move the Co-op has been setting money aside.
“It has quite a nice chunk of change put away,” he said.
They will take possession of the new location on June 1 and will spend the next months planning and looking at the best ways to develop and use the new space.
The Co-op is inviting it’s owners to attend a upcoming special meeting on March 19 at the Best Western, which will include a special resolution put to the members about the use of its financial reserves.
The initial deal was to lease the property, but they decided that a longer term deal would be better for the Co-op.