Cindy Hadish/Homegrown Iowan
New Pioneer Food Co-op’s Board is looking at sites in North Liberty, Cedar Rapids and Marion as it moves forward with plans for a new store location, but a second Iowa City store is also a potential alternative.
New Pi’s Marketing Manager, Jenifer Angerer, said – as noted in meetings with members earlier this year – that the food co-op would consider relocating its Iowa City store, should a suitable site present itself downtown.
“We want to keep a presence in the downtown, so if a site were to become available downtown we would move the existing store,” Angerer said.
She added that if a site on the east or south side of Iowa City were chosen, “we would keep the existing store and have two in Iowa City.”
The Iowa City Council earlier this year decided against a proposal that included a New Pi store in a new development at the corner of College and Gilbert streets.
That site would have moved the Iowa City store out of its current location in a flood plain and allowed the co-op to expand.
Members voted this summer to pursue a site for a third store, or to relocate the Iowa City store to another downtown site.
New Pi General Manager Matt Hartz and board representatives met with residents outside of Iowa City in June to gauge support and answer questions.
The new store’s location is not set in stone and board members are mum on naming potential sites.
Changes also are in the works for New Pi’s Coralville store, with a relocation in the works for the kitchen and bakery facilities, and improvements planned for the current downtown Iowa City site.
Janet Razbadouski, New Pi Board Vice President, and Hartz sent out the following message to members this week:
Since receiving your support to pursue a third store or relocate the Iowa City store to another site in the downtown area, your Board and New Pi management have been actively engaged in exploring our opportunities.
The nature of the real estate market is such that we, unfortunately, cannot share the details of our property search process. It is highly competitive and owners, developer, realtors, and competitors could use information learned about our process to their advantage.
We know, from our several years of experience leading up to the College and Gilbert Request for Proposals (RFP) with the City of Iowa City, just how rare suitable properties are in the downtown area. The site criteria needed to support an expanded supermarket in downtown Iowa City are complicated. Opening a third store is the most likely outcome at this point in time. That being said, we continue to explore potential opportunities.
Potential third store locations we’re currently evaluating are in Iowa City, North Liberty, Cedar Rapids, and Marion. Members live in all of these areas and preliminary market study analysis shows that they all have enough market potential to support a store.
This third store option would not be as large as the Co-op’s proposal at College and Gilbert would have been, nor likely larger than the Coralville store.
There are also a number of smaller projects we’re pursuing, including improvements for the Coralville store, planned for 2014. Our bakery and kitchen facilities there are nearing capacity, so we are also planning to relocate them to a non-retail commissary.
This would allow for better space and equipment for employees, as well as much needed increased production capacity to supply our stores as the Co-op grows in the years ahead.
We are also evaluating improvements we can make to the Iowa City store to make it a more functional facility for members and employees alike.
We sincerely appreciate and thank all who participated in the ballot process, attended meetings, and communicated with the Board.
Please sign up for New Pi’s monthly e-newsletter, the eCatalyst (s.coop/14gm) or follow us on Facebook (s.coop/npfb) for updates along the way.
New Pi Board Vice President
New Pi General Manager