Work on phase one of the Bellingham Community Food Co-op’s three phase expansion project should begin in September, co-op outreach manager Adrienne Renz said.
Last November, the co-op bought a nearly 10,000-square-foot building at 405 E. Holly St., across Holly Street from its current location. The new building, previous home to Better Than New clothing store, will have a cafe and gluten-free bakery with indoor and outdoor seating after being remodeled. Work should be complete sometime next fall, Renz said.
The new building, called the connections building, will also house the co-op’s administrative offices, community meeting spaces, and a new classroom for cooking classes.
Currently, the co-op is bursting at the seams, Renz said. They cooperative was in the same position in 2009, before the co-op’s Cordata location opened at 315 Westerly Rd. After opening the new location, sales and traffic at the downtown store dropped. Now they’re back to pre-Cordata numbers, Renz said.
The co-op had to act fast to purchase the new building, Renz said.
“We asked and it turned out the guy who owned it was ready to sell it and he knew the tenants would be trying to leave,” she said. “We did really have to jump on it to make it work.”
Later this fall the co-op board hopes to begin phase two – remodeling the current downtown building. A deli remodel and a mezzanine upstairs, above the deli, will be included in the second phase, Renz said. The co-op is conducting an online survey to find out what’s important to its members and customers, and the results will impact what goes into the remodel.
They’ll know by October what the additions to the downtown building will be, Renz said.
For phase three, the co-op will reconfigure the parking lot and add 15 to 30 car spaces and more bike spaces. The parking lot improvements depend on the city council approving zoning changes proposed by the city planning department.