Normal considers study for uptown grocery

2012-08-21T00:00:00Z 2012-08-21T08:49:07Z Normal considers study for uptown groceryBy Mary Ann Ford |

NORMAL — A request by Green Top Grocery Cooperative that the town fund $20,000 feasibility study has taken a twist.

Normal City Manager Mark Peterson told the council Monday night that he thinks a study to determine if an uptown grocery store is feasible is a good idea but that it shouldn’t be tied to one project, such as Green Top Grocery.

In addition, Peterson said, if the study reveals a grocery store could make it in uptown, the town would issue a request for proposals that would be open to anyone interested in providing the service.

Organizers of Green Top Grocery approached the council with the idea of funding a feasibility study in July.  The group wants to open a cooperative and was considering space on the first floor, east side of the College Avenue parking deck — which the town always has eyed for commercial development — but wanted to be sure it was viable and economically feasible.

After a discussion, the council asked Peterson to further study the idea.

Peterson said it would be difficult to approve funding a study for one specific entity and offered the alternative of a town-funded study that would offer the town information about the potential success of any uptown grocery store.

“That certainly mirrors our practice over the past 15 years,” said Mayor Chris Koos.

Peterson said the company hired for the feasibility study would know if any of the big box grocery stores have smaller alternatives for an area such as uptown and also would look at all possible locations.

“We won’t bank on one specific site,” Peterson said, instead looking  at vacant sites and those that could be redeveloped — in addition to the parking deck site.

“Having a feasibility study that indicates a need would help to attract a variety of potential grocers,” Peterson said. “It would be available to the co-op as well as others.”

Peterson said he will come back to the council in the near future with more details including a recommended consultant that specializes in grocery stores.

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(10) Comments

  1. Jazzy
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    Jazzy - August 23, 2012 11:13 am
    Before spending this kind of money on a study i would suggest that city staff simply do the math. How much money would be required to build out this site? (14,000 sq. ft. @ say $150 per sq. ft. = $2,100,000). Equipment ? ($100,000 -- $150,000). Staffing, and misc. $200,000. Cost of goods (grocery business suggests 1% -- 5% net margin would suggest there would have to be a significant volume of product brought into this site. Logistics becomes a major problem. This 'study' is going to solve staging and receiving -- for this kind of volume? I don't think so.
    The Green Top folks could look into the old Walmart/K's Merchandise location. Big enough to incorporate a adult/children's day care, and perhaps other compatible enterprises. Low overhead, known costs, etc.. lots of parking, loading/receiving facilities.
    Having a good idea is terrific, having tax payers subsidize it is not such a good idea. There are a number of people that can come up with good ideas -- does that mean they all should line up to have studies done?
    If the Town of Normal is intent on using this location for a 'food co-op/Farmers Market concept -- why not simply set up a minimum facility 'open air' concrete floor with utilities , perhaps in fared heating, washing facilities, public bathrooms, etc.. Run the 'Market Place' as gathering compliment to the Constitution Trail and UpTown Normal.
  2. jster
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    jster - August 22, 2012 5:35 pm
    Just wondering, why wouldn't you park in a garage to shop for groceries? It's free for the first hour, out of the sun, rain, wind, snow, etc. In addition, the location is centrally located, and easy to get to by car, bus, or bicycle, and there's thousands of students within walking distance for nine months a year with no other convenient source for groceries -- and many of those do not have cars. Are these somehow drawbacks? Please explain, o' sage! LOL!
  3. Walter
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    Walter - August 22, 2012 11:22 am
    Why not just flush the $20,000 down the toilet. Get serious, who will park in a parking garage to shop for groceries. We all know it will flop, but for $20,000 some consultant will show it is a success waiting to happen, just needs a million in incentives.
  4. ct
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    ct - August 22, 2012 2:16 am
    Sadly targeted growth like the council is trying to carry out is just not practical for city govt, where leaders and ideals change on a whim, along with budgets.

    While there is no harm in pushing growth - controlling liquor store or bar density - but you can push profit driven business. They already know where they want/need to be; the city throwing money at it can't make pigs fly.... well not for very long.
  5. MikeAIMD
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    MikeAIMD - August 21, 2012 11:01 am
  6. calvin
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    calvin - August 21, 2012 10:44 am
    Try to suggest opening a bike shop and see how far you get ...
  7. moderndaycowboy
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    moderndaycowboy - August 21, 2012 9:26 am
    I want to open a bar in downtown Normal. Will the council please fund a feasibility study for me? Thank you.
  8. Captain
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    Captain - August 21, 2012 8:34 am
    Let the MARKET decide!! Stop using taxpayer dollars for frivolous studies!
  9. Alli
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    Alli - August 21, 2012 7:55 am
    I'm tired of MY money being used to pay for businesses to come to uptown. If they want to come her put up or shut up and don't come. Pay for your own study. Stop using my tax dollars to give "tax incentives".
  10. The Patriot
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    The Patriot - August 21, 2012 7:33 am
    is the city considering in owning/ operating or otherwise investing on a grocery store? if not then why are they running or paying for a feasibility study? the business owner should do this as part if their business plan. wait one, I forgot I'm in Illinois where government sticks their paws in everything.
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