PT Food Co-op

The Food Co-op, 414 Kearney Street, Port Townsend, 98368
Port Townsend
Phone: (360) 385-2883

Expansion Updates

Header-Digging-In-Post

 

6.14.2018 EXPANSION PROJECT UPDATE

  • Pour footing for addition (6/15)
  • Remove forms for the footings and stem walls
  • Set lower section of new drain line
  • Backfill behind retaining wall
  • Begin framing the addition

 

EXPANSION UPDATE 6.7.2018

Coming up this week we can expect more work on preparing for the foundation of our addition by:

 

  • Finish scraping out bad soil and replacing with Controlled Density Fill
  • Strip retaining wall forms
  • Lay forms for addition footings
  • Set and tie bar for addition footings
  • Pour footing/stem for addition.

EXPANSION UPDATE 5.30.2018

The construction crew has finished forming the retention wall—and we’re ready for them to spray concrete onto that form. Currently that work is scheduled for Tuesday 6/5 and it will be another day of busyness with concrete trucks and crews in and out of the lot all day.

Work is progressing on preparing the footings for the addition and we expect that work to happen after the retaining wall is completed, possibly as early as next week.

  • Spraying of retaining wall with concrete ( Tuesday, 6/5)
  • Preparing the footings for the addition

EXPANSION UPDATE 5.23.2018

  • Finish preparing the retaining wall forms
  • Preparing the ground for the addition
  • Forming the footings and setting bar

EXPANSION UPDATE – 5.17.2018

This week we were able to pour the footings for the retaining wall and the floor for the new staff break room and server room- yippee! The form for the retaining wall is being finalized with a grid of rebar that will allow us to spray the concrete directly on to it. That concrete work is scheduled to happen June 5, but may happen earlier if someone else cancels their order.

The footings for the new addition will be reinforced to allow us the option to add a second story at some date in the future. So this week they will be preparing for the footings by doing the sub grade work for the addition slab and for the following compaction test. I have found it very interesting to observe how often work is being tested to ensure that it is being done properly and will withstand the test of time. Since ground breaking we have had 4 tests conducted and we can expect quite a few more before we are done.

Additionally an agreement has been reached with Kitsap Bank to finance the construction and the equipment. I expect that loan documents will be signed next week by both the board president, Monica and myself; another major milestone we can celebrate.

Upcoming work for next week:

  • Preparing to spray concrete on retaining wall
  • Prepare the ground for the pouring the footings of the new addition
  • Pouring the addition footings, forming the addition stem walls and sub grade work for the addition slab.

EXPANSION UPDATE – 5.9.2018

Now the keyway for the footings have been poured, work this upcoming week will continue on building the retaining wall, including;

  • Setting the retaining wall footing bar
  • Pouring the retaining wall footing
  • Preparing the addition wall footing.

When it comes time to pour the footings (for our retaining wall and for the base of our recycling/waste stream compound) we can expect about 10 truckloads of concrete through the north parking lot. Rather than close off the lot for that day (possibly Tuesday, May 15th) we anticipate asking the concrete mixers to drive slowly with the traffic flow and to watch out for pedestrians.

And looking forward a few weeks, we are on track for preparing the extra strong footings for the addition. These footings will be larger than needed so if the day ever comes that we want to build a second story on the addition, we can.

EXPANSION UPDATE  4.14.2018

 

Thanks to all of you who were able to attend the ground breaking ceremony this week—what fun that was –and what a great pic on the cover of the Peninsula Daily News and Facebook too. We were blessed to have so many people there to support us, not to mention a deer running by and an eagle flying overhead—all good omens!

 

Staff spent most of the week moving our base of operations/receiving to the south entrance and so far it seems to be going pretty well. Staff are pretty happy with the change and customers are getting used to it. Reminder: this entrance will stay closed for the remainder of our project. A new, smaller door will be added when we begin work on the new dining area (where Wellness currently is housed) in the fall.

 

On Thursday, April 12th, a giant orange excavator showed up next to my office as they prepared the ground behind our facilities shop for a construction staging area. That area will be fenced off for the duration of the project and returned back to the way it was afterwards. For walkers who like to cross that field we will be asking you to use the sidewalk on Kearney St instead—so much safer!

 

On Monday, April 16th, the real excavation work will begin. In general during construction we will be able to use almost all of our parking lot, however for this week a big chunk will be closed for the excavator and the dump trucks to do their work digging out the east hillside. They estimate 10 dump trucks per hour for 10 hours a day for 5 days! Holy Toledo that’s a lot of dirt! All cars will need to use one of our other entrances for the week. Thanks for your patience during this ‘digging in’ part of our project.

-Kenna Eaton, GM

 

 

Can You Dig it? – an update 3/27/2018

It’s a GO!! We are super ready to dig in and grow stronger together! Ground breaking is planned to begin Monday April 16th and we expect to be under construction for 3-4 months while our addition is built. After that work is completed, we will segue into refreshing the store interior for the ensuing 6-9 months. Updates can be found on our web site (www.foodcoop.coop/expansion), on social media, and in the alcove at the store.

How did we make this decision? We began in 2015 talking to our stakeholders (members, staff, the board and our community), we worked with professionals to study the numbers, and we dug into find out what was important to us. The result of that work led the board and me to commit to, literally and metaphorically, digging in to our current location and growing just enough to meet our needs for the foreseeable future.

Since that time, we have been working to develop a plan for both the store and the backrooms that will address our most pressing needs and still be affordable. The staff has helped refine the plans, coming up with really creative suggestions and solutions. Now we have that plan ready to roll, we have selected a general contractor to do the work, we have (almost) secured financing and we finally have permits in hand—it’s all moving in the right direction. I outlined the timeline for construction above, and as you can imagine, all that work will have an impact on the store and your shopping trips, both in the parking lot and in the store itself. However we are planning to stay open during the entire project and hope to minimize any disruption to your shopping. We guarantee it will be interesting!

During construction, our staff will be receiving and processing all of our incoming product through the south entrance (the one closest to Penny Saver), which means that we will be asking all of our shoppers to enter and exit through our north door. We will also need to block off part of our north parking lot for the construction team to get their work done, safely. So, as you can imagine, it will be challenging at times—both to staff and customers—but I know you will help us be successful by continuing to make us your market of choice. Look for information in the store and on our website (plus through email and social media) for updates, ideas, and other ways we’ve dreamt up to mitigate the impact of fewer parking spots and reduced access during construction.

Thanks for your patience as we negotiated all the hurdles of permitting and financing to get to this point. We aren’t done yet, but I am so glad to have your support as we continue to navigate this exciting new phase of our Co-op’s story as we grow stronger together!

DIGGIN’ IN- an update 2.23, 2018

In regards to our upcoming expansion /remodel project, I promise, we are getting closer! Just this past week I heard that the City has reviewed our project and are preparing to send back requested changes prior to issuing a permit. At the same time we are also busy nailing down the projected costs of construction and new equipment. It has been a long, iterative process, but we are getting closer and it is super exciting.

A collective process: Back in January of 2015 we held a member forum—we wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the qualities our members loved most about their Co-op. And if we were to grow, what they wanted us to be sure to keep (vendor booth, buskers and a commitment to local rose to the top of the list). In the fall of 2016 we conducted a member survey looking for more information on a potential expansion or relocation project. Next came a market study that looked at various locations available around town that met our needs and that we might consider relocating to. Based upon that information and a financial feasibility study the Board and I decided that we wanted to stay in our current location and grow- albeit modestly due to site constraints.

Fast forward to August 2017, at 3 staff meetings, we showed our staff the plans that we had developed based upon those years of collected information and which reflected a myriad of issues: overcrowding in the back rooms, poor customer and staff flow, crowded aisles, misplaced departments and outdated equipment and systems. At those meetings I heard lots of staff feedback, and noted their suggestions, questions and recommendations. Also in August members got a chance to review our plans at an open house held in our dining room—where we garnered a lot of positive feedback, plus some interesting observations & potential solutions. Using all that gathered information we have reviewed, revised and improved our plans to the point where we were ready to submit for a building permit.

Since that time (December 6, 2017) we have been working with managers & development specialists from the NCG (our co-op of co-ops) to think even more intensely about specific layout and merchandising challenges that have arisen as a result of our planned changes. And now, as we get closer to ground breaking, we are thinking about how construction might impact our daily operations and customers shopping patterns. I have asked key staff to develop plans for receiving, for communicating with staff & members and for parking alternatives, all during building and refreshing the store—as we want to ensure both staff and customer safety, as well as sanity, during construction! Those plans will become the cornerstone for how we operate during the next 6-9 months until the project is completed.

As you know it is my job to make the final decision however I greatly value staff, board and member involvement and collaboration during this entire process. Because of all those suggestions we have a better plan and a much better chance of a successful project—so my THANKS to all of YOU!

Food Co-op Expansion Open House
by: board member Lisa Barclay

Thanks to all who attended our open house on The Food Co-op’s expansion Tuesday, August 22. Members pored over the draft layout for the store and talked with General Manager Kenna Eaton and board members about the details. We appreciate your thoughtful questions as well as your support.

New Store Layout

Members were particularly interested in the plan to move the dining area to the front of the store. This change will enable us to relocate the Wellness Department to the main body of the store and it will also encourage people to pay for their food before they eat it. In addition, eliminating the deli cash register should help with the congestion around the deli case. We expect that both cashier fast lanes will be open at lunch time, which could make buying your deli purchases actually faster than now. There were some questions about the distance from the deli to the eating area, but such a separation is actually quite common and seems to work smoothly for other stores.

The Bulk Department will move into the current dining room and Wellness will use some of Bulk’s current space as well as the south entrance area, and the south door will be closed, allowing us to utilize all our space while keeping the expansion fairly small.

The back rooms will be expanded, making them much more usable for storing product and stocking shelves. The staff is pretty happy to be getting a second bathroom, one they don’t have to share with maintenance! And the fish and meat department will move out of their closet-sized work space and out from under the feet of the deli and kitchen staff. Seafood will get its own case, and we’ll be able to offer more local meat, supporting local businesses.

We’ll be digging into the hill behind us a little and building a retaining wall, in order to have enough room for all our recycling, composting, and waste. It should be easier for staff to access and much tidier! But sorry, while we won’t be losing any parking spaces, we won’t be gaining any either.

Finances

On the financial side, some members asked how much cash we have in the bank to weather any setbacks. We have well over a million dollars in the bank and the projections for this project never have us below twice the industry standard for cash on hand, so we have a wide margin to work with. We’ve been saving and planning for this expansion for years and we are being fiscally conservative.

We were also asked why we aren’t getting our loan from a credit union, as a fellow cooperative. Our current loan is with Kitsap Bank, so any bank that wanted to loan us money would need to first buy that loan from Kitsap (because of how loan priorities work), which could be a convoluted, expensive prospect. Kitsap is a local, community-oriented bank, and while we haven’t negotiated a loan yet we think that keeping our loan with them will be the most favorable option for us. (In addition, credit unions are set up more for individual customers than for businesses, sort of the way The Food Co-op is mainly for consumers, not businesses.)

Timeline

We had hoped to break ground in November, but these things always take more time than you hope, and we still don’t have a frim fate set yet. We’ll probably start by constructing the new addition, and then we’ll work on the inside of the store, bit by bit. Our contractor has experience in these kinds of remodels, so while there are sure to be disruptions, they should be able to guide us through. And remember, we need you to keep shopping while the construction goes on! We can look at it as an adventure, imagining what is being built behind that plastic sheet or where the bread might be this week.

In the meantime, you can see a drawing of what the Co-op might look like, along with other materials about the expansion, in the dining room and on the website (under expansion updates). The plans are naturally subject to change, but they give us an idea of where we are headed, and it’s fun to look around the store and imagine what it will be like in a year. Thank you for all your support!

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Details from our Expansion Open House

Explore our expansion timeline, see how the Co-op is financing our growth, and view the latest floor plan as it changes below!

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Join Us August 22 for an Open House on the Food Co-op Expansion Project

The Food Co-op board would like to invite our members to an open house on Tuesday, August 22, to see the plans for our expansion and remodel. Please join us in the Co-op dining room between 6 and 7:30 pm to see the revised floor plan for the store as well as Mindy Dwyer’s sketch imagining how we might look after the remodel. We’ll also have a (flexible) timeline for the expansion, from groundbreaking to completion, plus information on how we are financing the work. And, since we’ll have a little more space in the remodeled store, you can tell us what new products you would like to see—we just might have room for them.

What a Ride It’s Been!

When we began this process more than two years ago, we knew it would be a long and complicated road—and it certainly has been. First, we canvassed our members and staff on what they wanted in a store, and then we explored our options, from building anew at a different location to multiple small stores to staying at our present beloved home. Gradually, staying put and expanding slightly became the obvious choice, both economically and emotionally.

We’ll Break Ground in November (We Hope!)

A modest expansion and remodel is rather more complicated and difficult than simply building at a new location, so it is taking time to get all our ducks in a row, but now we are ready to unveil our plans. And if permitting goes as planned, we hope to break ground in November. We’ll be open the entire time we are building and remodeling, so we are going to need your patience and good humor as things get a little more crowded and messy for awhile.

Co-op Members are the Best

But we know our members will see us through, because you told us you love the location, support the Co-op because of what we do, and you want to see those back rooms fixed so our staff has the best possible place to work. We really are a little different here!

 


 

EXPANSION NEWS by Kenna S Eaton, GM

5.25.2017

And what about the Food Co-op’s expansion and remodel plans?

We are still trucking along with planning what it will look like, how it will work, and determining just exactly what it is that we need to do to improve the work space and flow for both customers and staff.

Recently I met with the City in what is called a ‘pre-application meeting’, which is where they tell you what permits and reviews will be needed to issue a building permit. This gave us a much better understanding of what will be required of us. So we’re adjusting our work to reflect those needs. As soon as we have the next iteration of the floor plans (hopefully by the end of May), we will be ready to bring them to our staff for their review and input. Our staff has been extremely patient with the process (who knew it would take this long?). So, lots of preparation is going on behind the scenes as we attempt to create a plan that will allow us to grow in place over the next 10 years. At this point we’re not exactly sure when we’ll be permitted to move forward with the work. But don’t worry, we’ll let you know just as soon as we can.

Speaking of which –did you know we gained 4 parking spots last week? The maintenance crew was able to get creative with striping the parking lot (finally- that was a long, wet winter) and found we could squeeze in a few more spots. The final striping also added a few motorcycle parking slots back into the mix. Now we’re ready for a busy summer. See you in the aisles!

 


 

3/15/2017 Blog

by Kenna Eaton, General Manager

Expansion and remodel — two words that seem to fall from my lips more and more often as we get closer to solidifying our plans.

It is important to remember that any building or remodeling project is a long process, even for those businesses that aren’t co-op. But, we seem to need a little more time than others to make sure that our investment is well thought through, affordable, and achievable.

Last fall we conducted a survey of members regarding a possible expansion and remodel on our current site. We heard from members that making sure our staff have adequate space to do their work was important to them (what a thoughtful bunch you are!).

So this winter we have spent our time planning the addition for the north side of our building: How big should it be? If we make it big enough to fit our staff and product needs, can the trucks still get in to deliver? And if they can, what will happen to all of our recycling and composting systems? Not to mention all the other uses of the north side, such as the bike racks and the plant sales.

And after thinking about all those options, then we have to re-crunch the numbers: What do we think it will cost? Can we afford to do it? Can we afford not to? For any of you who have been through similar projects, either commercially or on a residential scale, you know the dynamics are complex and intertwined. For every decision you make, another pops up its head and says, “What about me?”

So we are still in that mode — getting closer, but not there yet. Sort of like waiting for winter to end and spring to arrive — first you see one bud and then another and so on, until one day it’s here!

In the meantime, members are welcome to email or call me with your suggestions or queries at expansion@foodcoop.coop.

 


 

Update on Expansion by Kenna S. Eaton 1/26/2017

Recently, I was asked by a member, “So where are we on our project?” Good question. Thanks for asking. Actually, this project reminds me of taking a really, really long trip. You know the kind—the one where you hurry to get to the ferry on time, and then sit and wait your turn to load. Then you hurry to get on board, and then you sit and wait…. Well, we’re still in the early part of the waiting phase.

You may remember that for this project we are working with a team—a store planner, an architect, an interior designer, and a general contractor—to create a great plan that we can afford. The planner has sketched a new store layout along with an addition, which we’ve sent to the architect, and we’re now awaiting the first “educated estimate” of the cost from the general contractor. Once that number is known, we will add to—or more likely subtract from—the concept until we arrive at a price we can afford. We are still thinking of a modest expansion to accommodate our backrooms, which in turn would allow us to add about 1500 square feet of retail space. So, this is still a modest proposal.

Since we know we will need to borrow some money, this winter the board has been studying the various options we have for financing. At this point, we are in agreement that to undertake a member capital campaign (also known as member loans or preferred shares) might be more than we need, especially when you factor in the cost in terms of staff and board time as well as the additional cost of lawyers, accountants, and legal fees. Currently, we are thinking of securing a more traditional loan from a local bank, as we did when we bought this building. However, no decisions have been made yet. When we have reached an agreement on the basic plan, we will go to the staff for further refinement before going to the board for the initial financial approval. In fact, the board has two opportunities to say “yes” before the project is a ‘go’.

And since we are still so far out, we really don’t know when we’ll be breaking ground either. More than likely sometime this summer, possibly later rather than sooner. Stay tuned for updates as we have them. If you have any questions pertaining to the project, please email us at expansion@foodcoop.coop.

 


 

Evolutionary Update by Kenna S Eaton, GM 12/07/2016

Planning for the anticipated expansion and remodel of the Co-op has been going on quietly behind the scenes. This upcoming week [12/14/2016] we plan to select a general contractor that we can work with over the course of the next 12 months; in essence we are looking for a company that can meet our needs and that will be a good partner in growing our Co-op.

The selected general contractor [GC] will work with us to develop a project that is both affordable and meets our needs, based on the plan we design. That design is being developed for us by a store planner with a wealth of expertise in small stores like ours- a problem solver as it were.

Other ‘team’ members will be an architect, in this case Jim Williams who has worked with us for almost 10 years and an interior designer, Abbie Greene, who currently works for G. Little and was previously one of our cashiers. Together we will create a plan that is, as I mentioned earlier, affordable and resolves some, if not all, of our challenges.

So, at this point, we are still excited and still not sure what the final plans will look like, nor when they will be ready to be presented to the Board for approval. And while we still don’t know exactly when that will be, we are hoping that it will be March 2017. A reminder: if the Board approve our plans and if the amount of money needed to do the work exceeds about $1.5m we will be asking our members to vote for this much needed upgrade.

 


 

Expansion Update- by Kenna S Eaton, GM

It’s been two months since we announced our decision to stay here in our current location and modestly expand to meet the needs of staff, members, and shoppers. Many of you are probably wondering, “What has been happening so far? “

We started the ball rolling by asking each of our managers to tell us what they think needs changing—what isn’t working in their department and why. We collected that information plus their ideas of what new things they would like to do in their departments and gave it to our store planner, PJ Hoffman. PJ has been designing grocery stores for over 40 years and most of that time has been spent in co-ops, so he is uniquely placed to identify and design solutions.

At the same time, we have been working on our operational budget for 2017 as well as developing pro-formas (long-term financial feasibility plans) in order to better understand the financial impact of this project—i.e. how much money can we afford to spend? It won’t be a lot of money, so as I said elsewhere, we won’t get the store of my dreams, or possibly yours, but we will improve our facility to make it easier to both shop and work in—and that will be a huge win.

Over the next month we will identify the general contractor we will work with, as well as nail down our store plans so we can come up with the firm price tag. It’s an iterative process and a collaborative one as well, so it takes time—much like everything else we do around here.

I’d love to hear from you, so if you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact me: expansion@foodcoop.coop, and either our marketing manager Ian or I will respond.

Thanks for supporting your cooperative grocery store!

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