Current News

 

For the latest news about The People’s Food Co-op, please visit our news section.

Welcome to the PFC expansion page! This page served as a project blog, sharing information and pictures throughout the relocation and expansion of the Co-op to 507 Harrison Street.  Read below to learn more about this fantastic project.

 


Expansion Blog Entries:

 

 



August 30, 2011
The Arts

Our new building's art features are nearly complete! I hope that you have taken the time to stop and really enjoy some of the loving art that was provided to the PFC by our local artist:

  • Mushrooms: Fruits of Decay - carved wooden panel donated by Ladislav Hanka, in the front entry way.
  • Doors - woodworking of 8 native woods and donated by Gerren Young, the most luxurious, intriguing and downright beautiful doors you'll ever find yourself on either side of. Find them when you find the restrooms.
  • Bike racks - Open Roads Bike Program has found a use for donated bikes that cannot be ridden.
  • And, finally, Our Great Lakes - a sculpture by Lesley Serri. These lakes will be hung tomorrow on the southwest corner of the building, along Willard.

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June 14, 2011
Help with the Old Store

Old Store

Hey Folks! We have 16 days left before we need to clear out of our old store at 436 Burdick St and we'd love help with the remaining tasks there. If you have time the weekend of June 25, please email Jace (volunteer@peoplesfoodco-op.org) and let him know of your availability. If you own, work at, or can recommend a good cleaning service, please let us know. We still love that space and want to leave it in great shape for whoever is next.  Otherwise, enjoy the beautiful weather, and your beautiful new store! Kalamazoo and SW Michigan deserve this. Come on out and enjoy it!

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June 7, 2011
Your beautiful Co-op!

Congratulations to every one of us for a job well done! I could not be happier with, nor prouder of, the work of the People's Food Co-op community over the past weeks.  We've  to brought this awesome project to completion. Since we opened our doors on Tuesday last week, we've had so many folks come through the store to check out our work. And the majority are very pleased, impressed, and excited. We have picked a great spot, and have created a new home that feels so good! The light, the air, the space, the colors, the products! It's beautiful! That's the one word I hear most when people see it: beautiful.

Over the past several weeks, we've had many folks both from the Wild Ones and the PFC here to help plant our native plantings.  We appreciate the splendid oversight from Tom Small, Chad Hughson and Tyler Bassett. Thanks y'all!  And then there was the actual move. We had so much support from volunteers on Monday that we'd literally moved everything from the old store to the new by 11am. It was AMAZING!

I keep trying to estimate the number of people that made this happen.  We've had help from owner-lenders, volunteers, our glorious staff and board (both past and present), folks from other Co-ops around the country, the builder and architect, folks at the City, local artists, and landscapers. It has taken so many folks to make this dream a reality. We all deserve to be proud of our achievement. Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan are better places thanks to People's.

Click to view more photos
The New PFC

So, here we are, in our new home. We're still working out the kinks, but we're feeling good. Come on by and say hi, and try the new store on for size. People's is all about, well, the people. Without you here, we're nothing. And I don't think you'll be disappointed. The food is alive and delicious, and the people are having fun making this a great place for you.

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June 2, 2011
Open at 507 Harrison St

What cause we all have for celebration! After five years of exploration and planning, People's opened in our new store at 507 Harrison Street this past Tuesday, May 31.

 

This building is the culmination of the hard work and commitment of so many people throughout this community. Every owner, everyone on the street with pat on the back or a comment of cautious concern, every lender, every board and staff member, and every shopper has molded and guided this process to help us land where we are today. Every aspect of the project, from choosing the location to choosing the colors, from raising the money to raising the issue of energy efficiency, came from a community conversation. Thanks for being engaged in this discussion!

The building and location, it's new, different, clean, and has such wonderful light! But the building is not the People's Food Co-op - the Co-op is us. We're the ones who put the love into it, who share knowledge with each other, who care, and that makes our lives better. The Co-op is us. Our new home is a beautiful testament to a community knowing how to care for itself. Well done everyone. I am so proud to be part of this.

Click to view more photos
Open at the new store

So, if you haven't already, come on over and see the new place! We'd love to know what you think. Please join us this Friday, June 3, for the Art Hop at our new home, and meet the folks who made our AWESOME bike racks - Tim, Ethan and the rest of the crew from Open Roads Bike Program. They'll have bike-related artwork for sale, with proceeds going towards their youth centered educational program.

So, what about the food? For the past two days, I have mainly been exploring our deli's amazing hot and cold food bar. Sara and her team have done an AMAZING job of stocking the store with such a bounty of delicious goodies. Yesterday we had our favorite polenta tortas, plus a wonderful "rockin' red" sauce, whole wheat pasta, and roasted veggies. They're cooking to keep us well and sane, and I am grateful!

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May 26, 2011
Store Opens on Tuesday, May 31

Well, this last week or so has been quite a ride. It is crunch time as everything comes together and a million details must be finalized.

We have spent the last four or five days building shelving, stocking that shelving, planting native plants, spreading mulch, cleaning up fixtures, and many, many other things. During that time SO many wonderful people from our community, and from the greater food co-op community have come to help. I am grateful to every one of you. There are some great pictures of the store, PFC volunteers, and volunteers from other co-ops as far flung as Marquette, Michigan, and Fayetteville, Arkansas. Check them out below.

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

I have to tell you that there have been some very peaceful evenings over the past week at the new site. It is a lovely view to the east over the field across the street. Bicyclists meander along the riverside bike path, cars stream by, with many necks craned to see what's going on in our new building. Out to the west, the sun sets over our beautiful berm and swale, planted with native plants and watered with the weather of the past day! And I just keep thinking..."we did this." I am so very proud of us. I am so proud of our dedicated, skilled, and talented management team and staff. I am proud of the hard work and dedication of our board, and proud of the vision and faith of you and others in the community to support this endeavor through your shopping and your investments.

I am so excited to share this new space with you next Tuesday.

In the meantime, please join us in celebrating the last days at our home at 436 S. Burdick Street. What a wonderful home it has been! Come on in and take a picture with your friends (bring your own camera or use one of our "disposal" cameras). And, please, bear with us as our shelves at 436 S. Burdick Street start to empty a bit as we close in on our last day there this Sunday.

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May 23, 2011
Native Landscaping at the New Store

With the help of the Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones, we are landscaping with native plants at the new store. The project will restore the brownfield site and provide healthy habitat for people and wildlife. We'd love your help with the plantings! Please visit our events page or contact Jace Raver for more info.

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

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May 11, 2011
Twenty days...

We are getting right down to it now! There are 20 days left before we open the co-op in our new home. Things in our new building are really shaping up!

Inside, the cabinetry has been installed and the check stands are being set. Power will be turned on in the building tomorrow, and with that, final tweaks will begin with the lighting, phone system, networking, refrigeration, etc. Outside, the large mound of soil (aka "Mount Co-op") has gradually been whittled away, much of it being removed from the site. The rest of the soil on site will be spread to create the berm and swale at the southwest corner. Trees and shrubs will be planted later this week and early next week.

It is now time for everyone (who has an interest in helping) to pitch in! Here are some ways you could help:

  • Tuesday, May 17, 3-7pm - planting shrubs
  • Saturday, May 21, Sunday, May 22, and Tuesday, May 24, 9am-5pm - setting shelving and breaking down boxes
  • Monday May 23 through Wednesday, May 25, 3-7pm - help with planting native plant plugs and seeding with natives
  • Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30, 8am-8pm - help to move stuff and set up the new store

If you can only help for part of a listed time, please let us know. We'd love to have your help! If you are able and willing to help with any of these parts and pieces, please contact Kristiena Sartorelli (our volunteer coordinator) for more information.

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

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May 3, 2011
Only 28 Days to Go!

Are you ready for the upcoming move and expansion? Can you believe that we are opening the doors of the new store in just 28 days? Everything is progressing smoothly and we're all very excited! Want to see the latest progress? Check out the photos below!

Would you love to be a part of this monumental event? Join us for planting and more landscaping at the new store, Monday (5/23), Tuesday (5/24), and Wednesday (5/25) from 3-7pm. We'd love your assistance with boxing things up and taking them to the new store on Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30 from 9am-5pm. If you'd like to help with either of these tasks, please email Kristiena Sartorelli (our volunteer coordinator) for more information.

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

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April 25, 2011
The Floor and More!

The building continues to be on track, even with the concrete hiccup that I mentioned last week. The retail floor has been stained and polished. Refrigeration equipment has been delivered and installation has begun! Our new check stands have also been delivered and are being installed. We're getting out the shovels this Friday from 3-7pm to install 37 native shrubs. Can you lend a hand? We need six people to help. If you are able, please let us know!

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

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April 19, 2011
All is well on the expansion front

All is well on the expansion project front. The most exciting piece right now is that the walls have all been painted! Check out the web page to see how the color chips translate on our walls. After a small hiccup related to the concrete slab, our floor will be stained and polished this week as well. The result will look a bit like terrazzo with a warm reddish-brown stain. Also on the agenda this week: finish the exterior siding, install the rack refrigeration system, and set up our phone and data systems. It's all coming together!

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

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April 12, 2011
Barreling towards May 31

We continue to barrel toward our opening day of May 31. The builders are making great progress! If you swing by you'll see the siding going up. Inside the floors are being finished, walls are being painted, and walk-in coolers are being assembled.

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

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April 5, 2011
Much Going on Inside the Building

I spent a lot of time at the new building on Monday. There is much going on inside: painting has begun, door frames are being installed, refrigeration piping is being roughed in, and the final drywall details are being finished. Walk-in coolers are being installed this week too! Outside the building, they are installing the moisture-resistant baseboard, and will soon start on the siding and the sidewalks.

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

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March 29, 2011
Interior Walls

We continue to be right on time. The dry wall is up and painting will start next week! The floors will soon follow! Keep checking back here for the latest photos.

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

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March 22, 2011
Rooms Start to Take Form

I took a tour of the store this weekend and found the interior walls are now insulated for sound baffling. It really starts to bring the building together into a set of rooms.

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

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March 15, 2011
78 Days To Go!

Things continue to progress with the project. We are finalizing the ordering of equipment and product, while making sure that all the electrical and plumbing is in place, before we put up the drywall. The latest news in our pursuit of energy savings for the building is that both the compressors for the Can-Do Kitchen equipment will now be on the rack, thus using 30% less electricity.

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

We are really counting down now, with only 78 days left to go before we open the doors!

Toward that end, we are starting to get a clearer picture of the help we'll need to muster from you all, our trusted ownership. We'll need help with sorting, packing, moving and cleaning in our current, soon to be former, space at 436 S. Burdick. Additionally, we'll need help at the new store with landscaping. We've enlisted the help of some native plant experts to redesign our landscape plan to involve nearly all natives. To keep the costs of this overhaul down, we'd love to have your help planting. Planting teams will be overseen by the likes of these experts and other wild ones. I expect we'll put out sign-up sheets for this volunteer help in early April.

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March 1, 2011
And Now the Floor!

I stopped in at the new building as they were finishing the slab yesterday. They were buffing the concrete around all the plumbing and power stubs. It was a site to behold! Now not only do we have a roof, but also a floor! Next come the windows, the interior walls, and the siding.

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

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February 24, 2011
Keeping On Track

On the project front, you should know that the contractors have been hard at work inside the shell, working on plumbing and electrical runs in the ground. The slab will be poured next week. Walls will be completed next with spray foam insulation and electrical and plumbing rough-in. Look for the windows to go in yet this week or early next, and the siding to go up soon as well.

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February 15, 2011
A Roof!

Everything is going smoothly with our building at this point. The roof materials are there, and the warmer weather this week should help with both adhering the roof membrane and thawing the crust within the structure.  This will helps us to move on to underground plumbing and electrical work. Soon we'll be pouring the slab!

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

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February 8, 2011
Creating an Enclosed Working Space

I hope that you have been enjoying the beautiful sunny days that have come in the wake of last week's blizzard. I have been so impressed with the dedication of the folks working on our new building. They worked hard to finish what they could before the snow, took Wednesday off, and then were right back at it on Thursday. I swung by this morning and took a couple new photos. The building is almost completely enclosed, tar papered, and insulated. We're expecting the roof to go on this week yet!

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

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February 1, 2011
The Walls of the Building Go Up

Well, the walls of our new building are going up! Have you driven by? The lumber finally arrived last Friday. The building crew was out there early Monday morning and they had the poles up and the windows and doors framed by the end of the day! Now that's fast! In talking with the site supervisor, we learned that if the predicted snow comes, it will slow the work down some, but not by much. He figures we'll have most of the framing done by the end of this week or the beginning of next week.

Click below to view more photos
Construction Photos

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January 25, 2011
Reviewing the Timeline

We are still on track with our expansion project!  Look for the Forestry Stewardship Council certified lumber to arrive this Thursday, and BAM!, the walls will be up by the end of next week. The trusses will follow, and by the middle of next month we should have what actually looks like a building! In the meantime, we are hard at work at your co-op, coming up with great product plans, new recipes, and new training materials as we look to post new staff positions in March.

January 28 - The lumber arrived! Click below to view more photos
Construction Photos

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January 18, 2011
Utility Work Ahead

Since last week, they have been working steadily at the new site and have back-filled the foundation.  I believe they are now working on utilities: sewer, gas, and electric. Not much to watch, but critical to making our new home comfortable and functional. A week from today, we should have the Forestry Stewardship Council certified lumber on site to begin framing our new structure. After so many years of planning, our new home is going to really start coming together now.

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January 11, 2011
The Beginnings of the Building!

I am not sure if you had a chance to see the progress made on the new building over the weekend, but we're now the proud owners of concrete piers and an insulated footing wall. Good stuff! There will be more earth moving next week, and then the walls to start to go up next week!

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

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December 31, 2010
Keeping with the Time Line

Things continue to progress with the expansion project.  Look for the concrete contractor to be out there on Thursday, pouring the forms for the piers. So far, we're still on schedule!

Click to view more photos
Construction Photos

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December 21, 2010
Construction Update

Things are progressing with the expansion project - drive by the new site and take a look. We are basically on track with the time line so far!

Additional photos of our weekly progress can be found on our facebook page or our photobucket page (click on the photo below to visit photobucket).

Construction Photos

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December 14, 2010
Construction Begins!

Hopefully you've had the chance to drive by our new home to see the progress that has been made. As soon as the frigid weather breaks, the friendly folks at Woolf Excavating will get back out there and start digging down 6-8 feet, sifting the rubble from the soil.

Our goal is to keep as much soil and non-organic rubble on the site (that's part of responsibly managing a Brownfield site). We'll keep you up-to-date with pictures as things progress.

Construction Photos

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December 7, 2010
A Huge Step Forward

Today was a huge step forward in the process of turning all our hard work and commitment into a new store for People's. At 1pm, our board president, Aliisa Lahti and I sat down with our lenders and signed a large stack of papers affirming our commitment to repay First National Bank, LISC and the City for their loans. This makes our new building a reality.

Here's a recap of how this is all coming together:

  • Funding Sources:
    • Owner contribution: $750,000 (equity, loans, cash from operations)
    • First National Bank loan: $400,000
    • LISC loan: $400,000
    • City of Kalamazoo loan and tax increment financing: $200,000
    • TOTAL: $1.75M
  • Uses:
    • Building and site: $1M
    • Equipment: $350,000
    • Fees & pre-opening expenses: $100,000
    • Working capital: $300,000 (inventory, contingency, etc.)
    • TOTAL: $1.75M

It has taken the hard work and strong commitment of so many folks to get to this point. Thank you all so much! 

Look for some heavy machinery starting to work on the site and take some time over the coming months to stop by and check out the progress on the building. We'll also take photos regularly and include them here and on our social networking sites.

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Construction PhotosNovember 30, 2010
Ground Broken!

Well, we really lucked out. Yesterday was a wonderful day to break ground at the new site--crisp, clear air, blue sky, wisps of clouds, and sunshine. More than 50 people stopped by to participate, and many had the chance to don a hard hat and put shovel to ground.

There are a few more minor details to work out, but we are largely ready to get this building started.Our plan, again, is to get the building shell up ASAP, and work through the winter. We are currently shooting for a May 31 opening!

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November 20, 2010
Join us for our Ground Breaking Ceremony

At this point, we are waiting on a couple final details to close on the bank loans. With this end in sight, we'd like to announce a ground breaking ceremony on Monday, November 29 at 4pm. Join us at 507 Harrison Street for this historic moment -- complete with hard hats and silver shovels. Our plan is to close on the loans later that week and then the contractors can get working in early December.

In addition, as we near the Thanksgiving holiday I want to give thanks for all that we have accomplished together through this last year. A year ago, I sat with the architect and builder and began the process of designing our new home. Since then we have chosen and announced our new location, found great lending partners, raised $540,000 in owner loans, completed our building design, and...just yesterday...REACHED 1000 OWNERS!!!! We have so many reasons to be grateful! Thank you for all that you do.

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November 2, 2010
We Can Now Move Forward!

Congratulations everyone!

We set some lofty project-related goals for ourselves over this past National Co-op Month:

  • We now have 980 owners! That means that 48 new owners joined over the past 31 days.
  • We exceeded our base goal and have reached $519,050 in owner loan cash or commitments!

The change in our financing situation in September required that we raise our owner loan base to $500,000, and we did it! We can now move forward with our project! Today, I will learn about the construction bids, and thus have a better idea of what the building will cost. All dollars raised above $500,000 will be used (as much as possible) to further 'green' the building. If you have an interest in greening the PFC, please contact me -- we will continue to take owner loans as long as we are in process.

Some people ask me what it is about this project that is the most inspiring to me...what keeps me going. I have to tell you what I keep coming back to is the opportunity to show our community and the world what a "sustainable business" looks like. We embody that term. And our new home will embody that as well, at least as much as we can afford. Whatever we invest in this building up front will come back to us, to the planet, and our natural resources in spades. My ultimate goal is to make our new home net energy zero, meaning that we generate as much energy as we use. That will not happen today, by any stretch, but the first goal in such an endeavor is to bring down our energy use as much as possible, and that is where we are doing all we can. The next steps will be to make our heating/cooling system more efficient, our lighting LED, and include solar tubes. We will keep you posted as we proceed with the project!

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co-op month

October 4, 2010
Changes in Financing and our Co-op Month Goals

I am writing today to ask for your help in ensuring that we can proceed with our project to build a new, sustainable People’s Food Co-op. During the past several weeks, our bank and other major lenders hit a snag as they worked to find a final structure for our financing. The new structure removes one lender, leaving a gap that each of the involved parties must step up to fill, but the result is $16,000 less in annual interest than before. This is a huge help to our Co-op as we look at cash flow in our first few years in the new store.

In order to make this restructuring work and for the project to proceed, People’s has a $60,000 gap to fill. I am coming to you for help to achieve this goal.

October is National Co-op Month, bringing awareness to the ways that co-ops of all types impact communities across this country. Did you know that there are 29,000 cooperative businesses in the U.S., owned by 130 million people – just like you and me! – that sustain more than two million jobs? Our store is a part of that statistic, and we’re aiming to be a bigger part in 2011! To that end, we have made it our goal for the month of October to do two things that will help bring this project to fruition:

  1. Raise $60,000 in owner loans and commitments, and
  2. Bring our ownership base up from 932 to 1,000.

Can you help us reach our goals? If you have already made a loan, consider lending more. If you are an owner and can commit at least $1,000 to this project, please contact me. If you are a shopper but not an owner, and believe in the vision that we are creating for the future of this community, please consider becoming an owner today. Your support of People’s is what makes possible all the work we do. Thank you so much!

You can check out the Kalamazoo Gazette article about this latest development.

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September 9, 2010
Finalizing a Green Design for Our New Home

We are at a critical point with our new home; we're transitioning from Design Development to Construction Documents. We're finishing our research and starting concrete plans for the actual structure. We need to define the everyday details of our new space, from the electrical outlet and phone jack placement to the locations of every refrigerated case and shelf on the retail floor.

We are making more difficult decisions as well, especially in regards to how our building will use resources for generations to come. These decisions are not philosophically hard. We want a building that meets our needs and has the lowest possible impact on the planet. The challenge of these decisions is purely financial. We have limited cash.

That said, we have done an amazing job with raising capital to make this project happen. I couldn't be more proud of how the community has come together to support our expansion and relocation. I would like update you on our progress and will describe concepts of energy efficiency, green options already included with our tentative building plans, and options we could include with additional owner loans. I will also share information about our project's time line and how you can help.

Basic Concepts of Energy Efficiency for the PFC

As described in our green building goals, we're focusing on site selection, site development, energy and water use, materials, and construction activities. All are important, but none impact the long term sustainability of the building like energy and water use. With the help of many experienced people, I have learned two important efficiency concepts:

  1. Know Your Energy Use Regardless of our building, the Co-op's main energy use comes from it's refrigeration equipment. The next highest is the heating and cooling system (including hot water), followed by other electrical uses (including lighting).
  2. Limit Your Delta T Delta T is the "change in temperature". If it's 80 degrees outside and the store should be 72, the 8 degree difference is the Delta T. Another example, water comes into your house at 50 degrees, but you wash your dishes with 120 degree water. Your water heater works to raise the temperature by 70 degrees (the delta T). To be efficient, you try to limit the Delta T as much as possible.

With the goal of 40% reduction in energy use, I have prioritized design choices based on these concepts. We are tackling our refrigeration first and then working down the list. Where applicable, we are looking to reduce the change in temperature required for any of these systems.

Current and Potential Green Features of the New Building

We are working to source materials and systems that best meet our goals of a lighter impact on the planet. They include:

  • Refrigeration - We are already planning to use efficient display coolers, walk-in coolers, and freezers. However, we want to do more! Rather than all 10 coolers or freezers having their own condensing units, we'd like to incorporate a rack system with four condensers in series. Depending how long cooler doors are open (which influences the Delta T), we could have only one compressor running for all 10 units (with substantial energy savings)! We'd also like to recover heat from the compressors to prep hot water for the PFC and Can-Do Kitchen sinks. When compared to a conventional system, these changes could provide a 30% reduction in energy use. They would add an additional $30,000 to project.
  • Insulation The best way to limit Delta T of outside and inside air, regardless of the season, is to use excellent insulation to create an airtight structure. We'd like to integrate a continuous insulation barrier into our plans. We would start with 6 inches of insulation on the roof, continue with 5 inches inside the walls, 1 inch around the outside of all exterior walls, and finish with 2 inches of slab insulation. The resulting R value would make the most of our efforts to heat and cool the space and would cost People's an additional $24,000.
  • Heating and Cooling If we have excellent insulation, this energy burden is greatly reduced. Most buildings vent by "leaking" hot or cold air. With our tight structure, we will rely on an energy efficient ventilation system to turn air over. We'd like to invest in an additional system to recover "waste" heat (or coolness) from the exhaust air and use it to condition incoming air. A thermal recovery system like this would add about $10,000 to the conventional roof top conditioning unit.
  • Lighting Keeping the lights on in the store uses a fair amount of electricity. To lower our consumption (and to create a more comfortable working and shopping environment), we'd like to add ten solar lighting tubes to the retail area. We'd also like to include a system that senses and adjusts lighting accordingly on sunny days. Integrating the solar light tubes and sensor system would cost about $30,000.

In addition to these systems, we will clean up and stabilize a contaminated Brownfield site, source sustainable materials, utilize a reflective roof cover, integrate rain gardens and a cistern to manage storm water ecologically (with an additional $20,000), contribute to a walkable and bike-able Downtown, Northside, and Eastside Neighborhoods, and try to divert 90% of our building project waste from landfills.

Project Time Line

We are not done raising all of the money for these improvements, but we do have a lot of interest. With a bit more time, I am hopeful that we will be able to integrate them all. The architects at Eckert-Wordell are currently working to include them into our plans, some as part of the base building, others as alternates. I envision we will continue to make calls and raise money throughout this project (even after we break ground if need be) in order to make it as sustainable as possible. Please consider helping if you haven't already! Contact me for more information at (269) 492-6468 or at chris@peoplesfoodco-op.org.

We plan to finalize construction documents by mid-October. This will allow us to break ground in early November after completing the bidding process. Although later than we'd originally intended, our extended planning efforts will allow us much more of the building that we want and need. I believe we'll still be able to open the doors of the new store come spring of next year.

Getting Involved!

We have talked a lot this year about investing financially in People's and we need your loans and ownership equity to make this project happen. However, if you aren't able to contribute monetarily, there will be many other important ways to become involved in this project. As we move past the design phase to the build-out, we will need all sorts of help, from landscaping and painting, to moving and stocking. Look for news about these opportunities in up-coming eNews and Coop Scoops. It takes a lot of time, energy, and expertise, as well as resources to make something like this happen. Its only happening because each of you, in some way or many ways, have chosen to make it happen. I am grateful to each and every one of you.

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August 9, 2010
Latest Revisions to the Site Plans

Check out the latest with our building plans! After brainstorming with the architects, we realized that by moving the building closer to the street, we will easily gain the following:

  • Increased green space for native plantings,
  • Additional parking spaces and more efficient use of paving materials,
  • Less congestion in the parking area with traffic flow in a single direction,
  • Better options for further expansion (if needed) on the west side of the building,
  • More space for the farmers' market (under trees between MacKenzie's and PFC), and
  • A more welcoming and spacious outdoor area around the main entry.

You can compare the plans - old and new - below. Please click on the image for a pdf file of the plan.

The New Plan
The New Plan

The Old Plan
The Old Plan

We are also excited that the City continues to work to bring the Kalamazoo River Valley Trailway right by our building (to the south). We want to thank folks from Wild Ones and from the Nature Center for the time they have taken to review these plans and for the advice they have given.

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August 2, 2010
Greening the PFC Loan Campaign

Today we are kicking off our Greening PFC Loan Campaign. We have a goal of raising an additional $80,000 in owner loans by August 31st to further green the new building.

Our base building includes excellent insulation and an air-tight structure, passive solar aspects, highly efficient refrigeration equipment, and a reflective roof and whitened concrete to lessen the heat island effect. With additional owner loans, we can add more green options including rain gardens and rain catchment, heat capture from our refrigeration equipment, day lighting, and possible solar hot water or seasonal options for heating the building.

Can we count on you to help with this? If you are interested in learning more, adding to your current loan, or making a new loan, I would LOVE to talk to you! Please call the store or email chris@peoplesfoodco-op.org today!

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July 19, 2010
Finances and Green Building Updates

We continue to make great progress on our relocation and expansion project. The latest news - we have received commitments for all of the base project financing! This means that in addition to the $600,000 coming from the Co-op, we have commitments for the other $1M in loans needed to design, build and outfit our building, and move our store! Lenders committing to the project include First National Bank of Michigan (Kalamazoo's only 100% local assets bank), the City of Kalamazoo, Local Initiative Support Corporation, and Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund. Congratulations everyone! We are making great progress!

We are still finalizing the design of the building. In addition to needing more information about the site (geo-technical, environmental, and utility), we also need to make choices about specific systems affecting the overall sustainability of the building. We will be building a very efficient structure -- tight and well-insulated. Additionally, we are choosing very efficient refrigeration equipment. The next systems to investigate for our green building (in order of impact) include heating/cooling, lighting, and storm water management.

To manage these items more efficiently, we will need to close a financing gap. We have determined that an additional $80,000 would allow us to bolster these systems and further "green" the building. To fill this gap, we are planning a short but robust second owner loan campaign in early August. If you would like to have your name on the list to contact about this, please email me at chris@peoplesfoodco-op.org. Thanks!

Assuming that all of the design work as well as the closing of all loans happen on schedule, we are on track to break ground in late August or early September. That keeps us on track to open in our new home in March or April of next year. Please stay tuned for more info!

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June 26, 2010
Review the Latest Plans with Green Options

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The green building and construction committees have been working with me to design a new building to house our glorious Co-op. On June 17, we received a complete draft of plans and a proposed budget. The good news is that the budget has not increased substantially, even with the addition of important structural and insular improvements. At the same time, the builder has also included budget amounts for additional green building options.

In this entry, we describe what we have put together (in limited detail), give you access to the design plans, and explain some possible green options

You can download the latest plans here. They have been reviewed by four experienced builders who are owners or other PFC supporters, each keeping an eye on longevity and sustainability (as described in the entry below about our green building goals).

Here is a bullet list of some of the currently proposed design aspects:

  • Structure: The building is a pre-engineered, pole-style structure. This style of building is lower cost, uses renewable resources, and creates less overall waste. The pole construction will be very strong, with all wood sitting above ground on footers. The Texas Township Pavilion (home to their Farmers' Market) was built using this exact structural system.
  • Insulation: The wall design includes 4 inches of spray foam insulation which provides both great insulation and a tight air seal. The roof is insulated with 6 inches of foam (for an R value of 42). With the current design, the floor slab is not insulated, but we anticipating adding this on as it will complete the "tight, well-insulated envelope" we are looking to create and will help maximize heating and cooling efficiencies.
  • Materials: All wood used in the building will be Forestry Stewardship Council certified, thus ensuring responsible growing and harvesting of this primary building material. Our exterior siding will primarily consist of recycled corrugated metal and cement board. We will finish our concrete slab for flooring in most parts of the building.
  • Sustainable components: In addition to building the tightest, most efficient structure we can, we also hope to do the following:
    -Use passive solar design for light and heat gain in the winter.
    -Use as many renewable, recycled, and responsible materials as possible (see above), and all materials will be low or no VOC (volatile organic compound) content.
    -Choose refrigeration equipment that is energy efficient and within our budget, and that is completely free of ozone depleting CFC's.
    -Create a roof with a white cover and ensure the concrete portions of our site (sidewalks, loading areas, etc.) are "extra white" to reduce the heat island effect.

The cost of the building described above is estimated at about $875,000. This is the amount we've assumed as we've raised money from you, and from commercial lenders. This is good news!

Could we make a building that better represents our values by increasing efficiency? You betcha! But it will cost us. So, here is a menu of possible green options and their costs:

greenoptions

Here is a short description of each of these items:

  • 1" foam insulation: Though better than steel, wood is not a great insulator. Wood that spans the inside and the outside of the building creates vulnerable spots for heat transfer. The foam insulation would sheath the entire building and help reduce this energy loss.
  • Natural lighting: Who doesn't love natural light on their bananas and baked goods? Too bad traditional skylights are so energy inefficient! Well, Solatubes are a product that we've identified that will bring natural light in without sacrificing nearly as much heat. We could add any number, but we've identified places where 16 could be used for the price tag we've listed above.
  • Storm water management: Between the parking area and building, our site will have lots of impermeable space. We are considering a few options to handle the storm water run-off from these surfaces, including:
    1) a cistern to capture the clean water from the roof for reuse on landscaping during drier times; and
    2) a rain garden to slow and clean overflow from the cistern and run-off from part of the parking lot.
  • Energy efficient heating: We are researching ways to limit our consumption of carbon-based fuels for heating water and our store. One item we've investigated is a solar water heater, with possible addition of radiant floor heat. This option would include insulating beneath the slab, installing a boiler and piping, and setting up the solar hot water system with roof panels.

Would you be willing to lend the Co-op (additional) money to make this vision happen? If so, please contact me, Chris Dilley, as soon as possible and I'll be excited to discuss the possibilities with you. It is a responsible investment in your local community with important ramifications for generations to come! Please consider it. Thanks!

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June 1, 2010
Design Development and Green Building

Big news on our expansion project front - we are closing in on the end of the Design Development phase. We have integrated the store plan, the visual look that we've created with the architect, and our priorities to forge a detailed set of plans. All through this process, sustainability has been a priority (thanks for reaffirming this with your survey answers!).

With the help of our Green Building Committee (thanks to Thom, Helen and Harold!), we created a set of green building goals to direct our building partners at Miller-Davis and Eckert/Wordell as they design and build the new co-op. The goals utilize the base checklist created by the US Green Building Council (developers of LEED) and articulate a standard for each point. We've been lucky to have the input of the Board and our committee members. Now it is your turn! Please follow the link to our Green Building Goals and let us know what you think!

Once these plans are done, we will post them on our web site and host several Showcases during the last week of June. Please join myself and the board, as we review these plans at the showcases. We want to ensure that we are all on the same page. Thanks again for your input through this entire process!

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May 24, 2010
Building Plans and Expansion Straw Poll

First of all, thank you so much to the 47 people who took the time to fill out our Expansion Straw Poll over the past week. Your input is very helpful and supports my current thinking about the project. Here are the results so far:

  • 95% of you "somewhat" or "very much" like the design of the building as our architects have drawn it.
  • 76% of you are "happy" or "very happy" with 507 Harrison as the site for the home of the new PFC, with only 9% being "unhappy" or "very unhappy".
  • The list of building priorities rated from highest to lowest are: Energy efficiency, Built to last, Ability to integrate solar or other systems later, Inclusion of the Can-Do Kitchen, and Funky / cool design. (Please note: several people commented that it was difficult to rate these factors).
  • 25% of you have at least some interest in lending or lending more if the extra loans are dedicated to green building

If you have not yet taken the poll, but would like to, please do so here.

We are closing in on a design that meets the above goals, with our greatest focus on efficiency and durability. We'd like to build a very tight, well-insulated structure, making the most of any heating/cooling or other energy efficiencies now and in the future. The design drafts should be done within the next two weeks, then we can start to estimate costs. Once we have these estimates, I would like to host a couple of showcases to share the results with you all.

Thanks so much for being part of this interesting and exciting transition! Whether you are owning, shopping, lending, or critiquing, your help is much appreciated. Together we are making Kalamazoo a better place to be.

Lastly, here are a few recent clippings from the Kalamazoo Gazette about People's:

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April 30, 2010
Owner Loan Campaign Update

As shown in our Aspara-graph to the left, we were able to raise $420,750 in owner loans (in only 53 days) to support our exciting expansion and relocation project! That is a huge success!

Thank you to each and every one of you that spent time considering, calling, and/or committing your support to this project.

Although the campaign has ended, you can still help out and make an owner loan. Please download our loan brochure or email Chris Dilley for full loan program details.

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March 4, 2010
Answers to Some Common Questions

What a whirlwind couple of weeks! Our staff and I have been inundated with lots of congratulations and questions since we announced our intention to work with the City to clean up the property at 507 Harrison Street and build a 6,000 square foot building on it. As we've listened to these comments, two primary concerns have stood out: the fact that we are building new rather than using an existing building, and a concern that the area we are moving to is not walkable.

Why aren't we