IOWA CITY – A development designed specifically with New Pioneer Food Co-op in mind will soon be proposed near downtown Iowa City.
The proposal calls for a new 10,000-square-foot store on the main floor, with condominiums or affordable apartments on the upper levels of the new building, possibly at College Street and Van Buren.
Co-op members are being asked to vote to authorize support of the Iowa City store’s relocation or to open a second Iowa City store.
Already this year, members voted to have the board pursue a new store in either Johnson or Linn County, with the result being a purchase agreement for a site in Cedar Rapids. That store, at 3338 Center Point Rd. NE, is expected to open in late 2014.
The 70-year-old Iowa City building, at 22 S. Van Buren St., sits in a flood plain and the store has had to close on occasion when threatened by floodwaters.
Earlier this year, the Iowa City Council decided against a proposal that included a New Pioneer store in a new development at the corner of College and Gilbert streets.
New Pi leaders noted that member approval does not mean the project will go forward, but will allow the developer to pursue the project and work on authorization from the Iowa City Council.
Adding construction time, the best-case scenario is for the building to be completed in two to three years, they said.
Under a preliminary proposal, New Pi would lease the property from the developer for seven to 10 years at an affordable price, with an option to buy at the end of the lease, giving the co-op time to build cash reserves.
According to information from New Pi, the site would include 60 to 80 surface parking spaces, with the building up to six stories tall.
The size of the store would be similar to New Pi’s Coralville site, including seating for the deli area.
Sarah Walz, President of the New Pioneer Board of Directors, wrote in a letter to members that a local developer had approached the board with the new store concept.
“While the Board is committed to keeping a store in downtown Iowa City, we do not believe it is prudent to wait indefinitely to secure a downtown site outside the floodplain,” she wrote. “We are therefore seeking a broader authorization, giving the Board flexibility to expand our operations within Iowa City by either relocating our current Iowa City operation within the downtown OR opening a second store somewhere else in Iowa City.
“Any decision with regard to location, size, and timing of a second Iowa City store will be based on the potential for sales growth and the opportunity to better serve our members.”
A “Yes” vote on the co-op ballot would give the Board three years to find a site for a new store. After three years, the authorization would expire.
New Pi Marketing Manager, Jenifer Angerer, said member meetings are scheduled for 10-11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18, both in the Lucas Dodge Room of the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City.
Members need to vote by Dec. 28 by mail or in-store by closing time on Dec. 29, 2013.