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.