River Valley Co-op Open House to Discuss Easthampton Grocery Store Plans

River Valley Co-op invites you an open house to review the plans for our proposed grocery store in Easthampton. Saturday, December 15th10AM-Noon located in the West Side Event Room in the Eastworks Building across from Riff’s Joint.  We’ve been exploring the feasibility of opening a second River Valley Co-op store in Easthampton on the former car dealership property located at 228 Northampton Street. We have secured the option to purchase the nearly 10 acre parcel which includes the former car dealership, adjacent meadow and wetlands, as well as property currently leased by Captain Jack’s Seafood Shack. We are preparing to start the permit process in January and invite your feedback and questions.  This is an opportunity to preview the plans before they are finalized and submitted to the Easthampton Planning Board for the permitting approval process.

Saturday December 15thmeet River Valley Co-op Board Members as well as members of co-op management and our local project team including our architect Tom Douglas of Thomas Douglas Architects and Jeffrey Squire of the Berkshire Design Group, (our civil engineering and landscape design consultants). 

The store is planned to be about the same size as the co-op’s Northampton store. It will feature the same fresh local food selections we are well known for in Northampton including an extensive prepared foods department for eating in or take out.  Our prepared foods department includes a salad bar, hot bar, coffee and juice bar, deli with made to order hot and cold sandwiches, pizza and a selection of baked goods which will all be made fresh from scratch in our onsite kitchen. We plan seating for dining inside and out and we’ve incorporated Captain Jack’s into the outdoor dining space. 

River Valley Co-op specializes in supporting local farmers and food producers. Over the past 10 years the Northampton location has purchased over $40 million in products from hundreds of local food producers.  Many Easthampton residents have long been River Valley Co-op owners, shoppers, and suppliers and we look forward to the possibility of serving you better and supporting more even local farmers and producers with this store.

Our local Easthampton store project partners:

Wright Builders: General Contractor and Project Management

This 45 year old Northampton construction company’s commitment to sustainability and community runs deep wide, and long.  

  • Wright Builders is the only firm in the world to complete two Living Building Challenge buildings. The Challenge seeks an integrated regenerative approach to the built environment, including elimination of toxins from the workplace and from the sourcing of materials.
  • Ithas achieved over 40 LEED certifications.
  • The company has built and or developed affordable ownership and rental housing for over 30 years. Currently, Green river Commons in Greenfield provides for net zero carbon neutral home ownership at 80% of median income.
  • As the first builder-developer to sign on to market rate housing development at the old Northampton State Hospital site, Wright Builders Inc. has designed, developed and delivered 52 units of LEED certified housing, the only such neighborhood in New England.
  • Wright Builders has talented and accomplished women in key positions throughout the company, including project management, marketing, and operations management.
  • The company has successful partnerships with many area subcontractors including both union and non-union contractors.
  • Wright Builders founder Jonathan Wright is also founding River Valley Co-op owner #8 of the now over 10,000 co-op owners. He has volunteered many hours to assist the co-op in its site search for a second location over the last four years. Jonathan lectures and presents around the region, and beyond, on sustainability and climate change response. He is the author of two published volumes of his poetry and photography, from 2014 and 2018. His third book, Living Building Makers, celebrates through stories the lives and work of those who make Living Buildings, and how that work transforms the individual and the work. It is due out in spring 2019. He is a regular contributor to Gazette columns and reporting, including features on Post-Maria Puerto Rico, universal health care initiatives, food, education and housing.
  • Wright Builders has completed multiple projects for River Valley Co-op over the last 8 years including a walk-in cooler addition, several renovations to accommodate growth in the meat and prepared foods departments, as well as the major remodeling of the whole store over 2015-16 with many energy efficiency improvements and improved capacity for operations. Wright Builders is very familiar with the co-op operational and physical plant needs and well aligned with the co-op’s values.

Berkshire Design Group: The Berkshire Design Group, Inc. is a nationally recognized award-winning firm of landscape architects, civil engineers and land surveyors headquartered in Northampton, Massachusetts.The Berkshire Design Group, Inc. has been leading sustainable design strategies for the New England Region since 1984. They work with clients holistically to craft an integrated project that minimizes negative impacts on the environment and improves a project’s immediate surroundings. They have been reducing greenhouse emissions, improving water quality, and developing cutting edge design solutions since the firm began.

Not only has the firm developed many of the prototypes and standards used by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for Stormwater Design, but they have lead the site design and construction of the:

  • First Certified Living Building Challenge in the United States
  • First Net Zero Community in New England
  • First PassiveHaus Childcare Center in New England

Across the country there are several voluntary accreditation programs which a client or project may pursue. Of these, USGBC’s LEED Rating System is the most common; others include: The Sustainable Sites Initiative, The Star Communities Rating System for Cities, Envision Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System, and the Net Zero Building Challenge. The Berkshire Design Group has completed numerous projects within each category and serves as a regional expert for many of these programs.

Berkshire Design supported River Valley Co-op’s first store project built in 2007-2008 with civil engineering and landscape design and has worked with the co-op on feasibility studies for several potential sites over the last four years. 

Thomas Douglas Architects provides a full-service model, which tightly integrates architecture and interior design. They provide a comprehensive range of services, including programming, master planning, site planning, conceptual design, and all the way through construction documents and administration.

Experience
Thomas Douglas has been practicing architecture since 1980, working on a variety of residential and commercial projects. He has design experience with theaters, restaurants, multi family housing, and commercial developments. He has worked extensively in the Northampton and Amherst area participating in the renovation of many local landmark buildings.

Education
Tom has a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Florida, a Masters of Architecture from North Carolina State University, and he attended the Architectural Association in London, England as an exchange student. He also attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts.

Thomas Douglas supported the co-op in its remodel store designs and rebranding project in 2015-16 and are very familiar with our branding standards and all our physical plant needs for store operations and mechanical systems.

More background:

Why Easthampton? River Valley Co-op is exploring Easthampton for a second store because:

  • Easthampton is well locatedfor a second store for the co-op.It is already within the co-op’s circle of customers and vendors and a store there will expand our circle further. The Northampton store is doing more than twice as much business as we had originally planned for and this Easthampton location is close enough to take a little pressure (but not too much) off our current store, making both stores financially sustainable.
  • Easthampton is a community that supports local businesses. There is a thriving network of like-minded local businesses in Easthampton that support and care about community building and working to shape the future to be in alignment with those values.
  • Easthampton has a site available that appears to be able to meet our facility and operating needs. It is a challenge to find adequately sized real estate for grocery store operations in locations that would sustain an independent grocery business. River Valley Co-op has secured the exclusive option to purchase the former Fedor car dealership property on Northampton Road in Easthampton.

The Co-op’s goals for expanding in this location include:

  • Expanding local foods production with increased purchases from local farmers and food businesses to serve two stores.
  • Improved access and service for our Easthampton area co-op shoppers.
  • Expand co-op ownership to more people.
  • Expanding local foods production with increased purchases from local farmers and food businesses to serve two stores.
  • Many new jobs including advancement opportunities for our employees.
  • Making the Northampton store less crowded while growing the cooperative overall for more employee and vendor opportunities.
  • Utilizing energy efficiency and green technologies in the store design.
  • Making the overall co-op operations more financially sustainable for the long term.
  • Creating a welcoming community/events space.
  • Working to incorporate Captain Jack’s as a potential part of the new development and/or supporting other local foodservice entrepreneurs.

We are very happy to be working with the City of Easthampton and our co-op ownership on this exciting project to extend our cooperative and fresh local foods focused services to Easthampton. Thank you for your ideas, questions, and concerns about this project.

Contact Rochelle Prunty, General Manager for more information: (413) 341-5686 email: rochelle@rivervalley.coop

 




An Update on the Easthampton Store Project

 

August 30, 2018

In January we announced that we are exploring opening a second store and that we had secured an option to purchase the former Fedor Car Dealership property located at 228 Northampton Street in Easthampton. We’ve been working on our due diligence and planning over the spring and summer and have made a lot of good progress. We’ve received feedback on preliminary site plans and are currently working on revisions for a formal review and the permitting process.

Some of the steps we’ve completed include:

  • Market Study
  • Draft Financial Modeling
  • Traffic Study
  • Topographical Survey and Wetlands Delineation
  • Soil Testing
  • Draft Site Plans
  • Exploration of Building Design/Materials Options
  • Preliminary Construction Cost Estimates
  • Started Store Design Process
  • Hired a Project Manager
  • Raised $2 million in phase 1 of our Co-op Owner Loan Campaign

We still have many steps to go before we can make a final decision, but so far so good. We will be planning for some presentations on draft plans for community feedback this fall. We hope to complete all our planning and financing for a decision to proceed with the purchase and sale by early 2019. We project construction will take about a year and our goal is to open by July of 2020.

River Valley Co-op is exploring Easthampton for a second store because:

  • Easthampton is well located for a second store for the co-op. It is already within the co-op’s circle of customers and vendors and it will expand our circle further. The Northampton store is doing more than twice as much business as we had originally planned for and this Easthampton location is close enough to take a little pressure (but not too much) off our current store.
  • Easthampton is a community that supports local businesses. There is a thriving network of like-minded local businesses in Easthampton that support and care about community building and working to shape the future to be in alignment with those values.
  • Easthampton has a site available that appears to be able to meet our facility and operating needs. It is a challenge to find adequately sized real estate for grocery store operations in locations that would sustain an independent grocery business. River Valley Co-op has secured the exclusive option to purchase the former Fedor car dealership property on Northampton Road in Easthampton. We’re working through all our due diligence to determine if this is a feasible location for our second store before finalizing the decision to move forward with the purchase and sale for this project.

The Co-op’s goals for expanding in this location include:

  • Improved access and service for Easthampton area co-op shoppers.
  • Expand the co-op customer base.
  • Expand co-op ownership to more people.
  • Expanding local foods production with increased purchases from local farmers and food businesses.
  • 100 new jobs with many advancement opportunities for our employees.
  • Making the Northampton store less crowded while growing the cooperative overall for more employee and vendor opportunities.
  • Utilizing energy efficiency and green technologies in the store design.
  • Creating a welcoming community space and community events.
  • Working to incorporate Captain Jack’s as potential part of the new development.

How can you get involved?

  • Sign up for our email newsletter to follow our progress.
  • Participate in store planning feedback sessions that will be upcoming this fall.
  • Send questions, comments, and ideas to us via email at askursula@rivervalley.coop.
  • Become a River Valley Co-op owner, or if you’re already an owner, encourage others to join.

River Valley Co-op Explores Potential Second Store Site in Easthampton

January 22, 2018

Contact:
Andrea Stanley, River Valley Co-op Board President (617) 519-6950
Rochelle Prunty, River Valley Co-op General Manager (413) 341-5686
Natasha Latour, Marketing Manager (413) 341-5627
Mayor Nicole Lachapelle (413) 529-1470 

(Easthampton, MA) River Valley Co-op has secured an option agreement for the potential purchase of the Easthampton property at 228 Northampton Street, (formerly the Fedor Automobile Dealership), as a second store location. River Valley Co-op is a cooperatively owned grocery store with one location in Northampton. Since 2014 the cooperative business has been discussing a second store location with co-op owners, customers, and employees in order to accommodate its growth as well as furthering the mission of building a strong local food system.

Andrea Stanley, Board President, reported, "We’ve been looking for a suitable location for a second store for several years to serve our community better. Our goal is to expand our community owned grocery business to further our local economic impact and build the resiliency of our local food system through year-round purchases to even more local farmers. We believe that Easthampton is an ideal match for River Valley Co-op. In fact, we have many co-op owners and vendors from Easthampton already, so we feel a strong connection to the community and look forward to expanding our working relationships even further with this project.”

The option agreement gives the co-op a year to conduct its due diligence, planning, and fundraising before exercising its exclusive right to purchase the property. River Valley Co-op’s leadership team met Friday with Easthampton Mayor Nicolle LaChapelle to discuss the dynamics of the plan. Mayor LaChappelle commented, "River Valley Co-op is a natural fit for Easthampton residents as consumers and job-seekers.  High-quality food and jobs is a combination that is hard to beat! I had the opportunity to sit down with the River Valley team last week. They conveyed deep understanding of Easthampton and shared their plans with thoughtfulness and enthusiasm. As the co-op is ready to grow, Easthampton is ready to support that growth to ensure success for everyone."

Owner of the property, longtime Easthampton businessperson Eddie Fedor said: “Our family is enthusiastic about the potential of River Valley Co-op expanding in Easthampton. This is a great location and will be very convenient for a lot of people. River Valley Co-op’s support of local farmers and other local vendors would make them a great addition to our community!” 

“Growing our co-op community with an Easthampton location gives River Valley Co-op’s local producers an expanded market and supports opportunities for new vendors. We are looking to build a store of the same size but with a larger parking lot than the Northampton store. This location meets many of our site criteria very well. We know there are some traffic concerns and we look forward to working with the community to determine how to best alleviate them. Now that we’ve secured the site, engaging community members and our staff to develop our plans is our next priority.” Rochelle Prunty, General Manager.

The co-op expects the store will employ 100 people in its Easthampton store. Northampton store employees are over 95% full time with benefits and are represented by the UFCW Local 1459.

 

About River Valley Co-op

River Valley Co-op, located at 330 North King Street in Northampton, is a community-owned grocery store open to the public daily 8AM-10PM.  Owned by over 9,500 area families, the co-op opened the store nearly 10 years ago with a mission to support local farmers and build a stronger local food system.

For more information please visit www.rivervalley.coop

 

 




Preliminary Drawings

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How would Captain Jack’s be impacted by a decision to open a second store at this location?
The co-op deeply supports local businesses and believes there could be very good synergies between Captain Jack’s and the co-op. Upon securing the option agreement on the property the co-op reached out to Captain Jack’s to express a desire and openness to working with them. We look forward to exploring the possibilities for working together over the coming year.

Why didn’t the co-op include Captain Jack’s in its announcement?
The announcement was about the option agreement and process for exploring the potential of a second store. It was not an announcement of a purchase with a plan for a second store. This was our first announcement about the proposal. There will be a time in the future to talk about other aspects of this project. We did not think it right to discuss conversations we've had or hope to have with neighbors.
The option provides security for the co-op to begin the process of exploring feasibility and planning options before deciding whether to exercise the option. The next steps include digging into details for site design and permitting. This includes beginning conversations with Captain Jack’s and others.

Why doesn’t the site plan show Captain Jack’s?
It is not a plan, it is a study sketch overlay we included to show the projected store size and parking scaled to the lot as a starting place for future plan development to give people an idea of the proportions of building, parking, loading docks for deliveries, etc. As the planning process proceeds over the coming 12-18 months (including discussions with Captain Jack’s) there will be many new working sketches that ultimately, we hope to develop into building plans.

Why did the co-op make this announcement so long before completing its plans and making a final decision?
Announcing the start of a process of exploring the feasibility of a second store and starting the planning process in such a transparent way is not the typical way business is done, but it is how the co-op does
business.

We look forward to a positive and engaging iterative planning experience that results in building a co-op store in Easthampton that will be something the broader community has had a part in developing and that will support the community in building the future it wants for Easthampton.


How is an option agreement different from a purchase and sale agreement?
The option agreement provides the option to complete a purchase and sale agreement as outlined in the agreement for a specified period. This allows security for a prospective buyer to conduct due diligence, planning, and fundraising as needed before making the final purchase decision. Our agreement provides a year for this process with the potential for an added extension if needed.

What is the timeline?
If the co-op decides to go forward with the purchase and sale, we project the best case timeline is that we will break ground by Spring of 2019 and open for business by the Spring of 2020.

What size will the store be?
The preliminary plans call for a store of about the same size as our Northampton store: 11,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor, plus additional space on the ground floor for prep and staff areas. The plans also include a "mezzanine" style second floor for offices, staff spaces, community meeting space.

Will the Easthampton location have a big enough parking lot?

We are planning for approximately 150 customer parking spaces (compared to 92 at our Northampton location). We are also planning for additional onsite staff parking.

How will the new store affect traffic?
We are aware of this concern. We will be conducting a traffic study and working with the city to determine how to best address traffic issues. A plan for alleviating traffic concerns will be a key part of the permitting process.

Why Easthampton?
One of the goals of the second store planning is to alleviate some of the pressure on our Northampton location by finding a second location that would serve a significant number of our current customers more conveniently. Easthampton has hundreds of River Valley Co-op owners and is the ideal distance from our current store. A second location within 5-8 miles serves both existing customers and potential new customers. As the Co-op expands, we have a continued and growing ability to impact positive community changes. We acknowledge that there are unmet needs in the surrounding communities where we also have some current customers and we have an interest in continuing to look for property that’s the right fit for the co-op as we grow.


When will we have an opportunity to provide input?

We are planning for a series of open house events for sharing information, gathering ideas, and listening to your concerns and questions. Stay tuned for details.

How will we fund a new store?
Like our first store, our second store will be primarily funded with many individual interest-bearing loans from our co-op owners as well as bank funding.

What are the next steps?
We will be working with the city to determine what all the permitting requirements will be and that will include a traffic study. Concurrently we are having a market study completed that will help inform our financial modeling. We will also be gathering feedback and ideas, networking, and starting the site and store design process. We project six to nine months of design work to complete.

Whom are we working with on this project?
Wright Builders, Thomas Douglas Architects, Berkshire Design, NCG Development Co-op, and of course the City of Easthampton are our primary partners on this project so far.

What will happen to Captain Jacks?
They will remain for the upcoming season and we will be discussing potential scenarios with them as we proceed with our store planning process.

More Questions? Ask Ursula (our co-op bear) by emailing your questions to askursula@rivervalley.coop.

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Feedback!

“The new store will be 4 minutes from my home and I plan to be there daily. This is fabulous and I am thrilled! I feel like getting a shovel so I can speed up the building process.”Rev. Dr. Andrea Ayvazian

"We live in Easthampton and we are delighted to know that there will be a River Valley Co-op in town.We are regular co-op shoppers, and we will certainly make good use of the new store. We are very happy to see our local cooperative grow and serve a broader community." Dan Lemaire

"That is thrilling news. Just yesterday, I was wishing there was a source for more local, natural foods nearer to me in Easthampton. This will be a boon to our community, as more grocery options will mean more positive impact in all of Easthampton, and more for our local farmers." Audrey Hyvonen 

"River Valley Co-op in Easthampton!?!?!?!Hearing about a new location for my favorite grocery here in Easthampton is one of the most exciting things I've heard in years!With so many local businesses sprouting up in Easthampton, support for local businesses like the co-op and it's local vendors is growing stronger than ever! Another location could make finding heathy local and organic food in our community more convenient than ever!" Sam Dibble New City Brewery