Expansion Update March 15, 2017

VFC to Launch Capital Campaign on June 15

Christina Dollhausen-web.jpgMy name is Christina Dollhausen and I am Viroqua Food Co-op’s new Capital Campaign Coordinator. As a fellow owner, I’m excited to work with the staff, volunteers and the Board as we move toward solidifying the final details to launch our Capital Campaign in support of expansion.

For those who don’t know me, in August of 2016, my husband Ben and our three young boys moved to the area with a few specific goals in mind. One was to give our family a true sense of community. Previously, I spent 10 years at the restored Stoughton Opera House promoting, fundraising, and developing the programming to allow the historic venue to live up to its greatest potential. By the nature of nurturing a community space, it led to successful economic development for the city.

Even before having a family of my own, I have had a passion for awesome local food, community programming and supporting local farmers and producers. By living here only a few short months, I see the culture and development of the community has been greatly supported by the outstanding work of the Viroqua Food Co-op. I am so happy to be a part of the team to help coordinate the expansion of the Co-op, to better serve the owners, and strengthen our local food economy!

Our ambitious goal is to raise $1 million in interest-bearing Class C shares by August 15, 2017. We are inching toward the final plans of the expansion project and we are assembling the final details of the financing package. The investment packet that we are building for your review will include a complete description of the program and important legal disclosures. VFC owners will receive an invitation in the mail to attend our Capital Campaign Launch (held on June 15 at the Rooted Spoon in Viroqua) and learn about Class C shares. We have also gathered a group of well-informed volunteers who will be available to discuss the investment opportunity and answer any questions.

Great things take time and we are making sure we have all the pieces in place for us to reach our goal successfully and smoothly. We can achieve our goal of expanding the Co-op when we receive strong financial support from our owners. I have seen firsthand that a community that invests in itself has much more success, identity, health and vitality, than one that puts its money elsewhere. The Viroqua Food Co-op is an excellent example of what a community can accomplish when we build commonwealth through community ownership.

Your confidence in the Co-op is a big part of our success. If you are interested in greater detail, reach out to our Board of Directors on our website, or contact me directly. Watch for more information here on the Expansion Updates page or the Investments page of our website. 

 

Expansion Update March 1, 2017

The times they are a-changing!

2017 promises to be a year of intense change for the Co-op. We’ll double our retail square feet and our staff will grow by 40% in a few short years. We’ll likely spend most of this year (and little of next year) in a construction zone to bring new services and more space to our community-owned grocery. We remain committed to our values of creating access to local and sustainable foods, and a flourishing local and cooperative economy. A larger produce area has a direct link to supporting our local farmers and food producers. We reach for a sustainable environment by supporting organic agriculture and choosing equipment that’s energy efficient. New multi-use spaces will give us opportunities to share information on health and nutrition.  Below is a preliinary drawing of the retail floor, changes are still being made, but it will give you an idea of the direction we are going.

2017-Viroqua-Expansion-retail-floor.jpg

Expansion Update December 4, 2016

We're now parking on the new lot!

It seems like a sea of concrete right now, but one of the recommendations from Viroqua City Council’s traffic study was that we maximize parking to take pressure off the streets of our residential neighborhood. Imagine another island around the utility pole and all three islands with shrubs and perennials. Landscaping is also planned for the north side of the lot along Broadway Street next summer. We’re planning an electric vehicle charging station on the north edge. Center Avenue will remain open through the winter.
    The timeline in the right hand column on this page under "Expansion Documents" shows a quick reference of the complexity and details of our expansion project. We are on track to begin building improvements in Spring 2017, but there’s a lot to accomplish before then! We’re inching toward the final plans and scope of the project. Then we assemble the financing package.
    Many of you have asked about Preferred Share Cooperative Investments (Class C) and that’s very exciting as we will need to raise owner equity to make the project work. Thanks for your confidence and support as we grow the VFC! Our Board of Directors is preparing a Capital Campaign launch in January 2017. As a VFC owner, look for an invitation in the mail to attend this event and learn about Class C investments.
    It’s important to the Co-op that we work with local lenders on the project, but to make that happen we have to get creative with financing. We’ll continue with our status as a USDA Rural Development project, and we are pursuing New Market Tax Credit Program for gap funding.
    The City of Viroqua agreed to apply for a Community Development Investment (CDI) Grant on our behalf. The CDI Program supports small city and rural community redevelopment efforts by providing financial incentives for shovel-ready projects with emphasis on downtown, community-driven efforts. Funded activities should lead to measurable benefits in job opportunities, property values, and leveraged investment by local and private partners. We’re a good fit for this grant and have an excellent chance of securing it.
    Our primary and secondary loans will be a combination of local and cooperative lending institutions, respectively; the same as when we funded the relocation project in 2005. We’re also working on Focus on Energy programs and other potential USDA grants.
    If you are interested in greater detail, attend one of the Board events (see Winter Pea Soup for details), reach out to our Board of Directors on our website, or contact me directly. Watch for more information on the Expansion Updates page of our website.

Expansion Update: December 2, 2016

Expansion Update 2016-12-1

Well, we made it! The new parking lot opened before Thanksgiving! Thank you so much to our staff and customers who parked further away while we finished the first portion. It really helped and we now have a much larger lot to park in – even if a portion of it remains closed while we continue our expansion project.

We ask that people do not attempt to walk up the slope of unfinished landscaping to the apartment offices. The ground is very soft and steep.

When it starts to snow, the plows will utilize the east (back) of the lot so we may lose a few spots during the winter if we get a lot of snow.

The light poles are scheduled for installation during the week of 12/5-12/9 (next week). Until then, we have temporary flood lights to help with safety.

Thanks again for your patience everyone!




Expansion Update: November 22, 2016

2016-completed-parking-lot.jpgWe are now parking on the new lot! 
It seems like a sea of concrete right now, but one of the recommendations from Viroqua City Council’s traffic study was that we maximize parking to take pressure off the streets of our residential neighborhood. Imagine another island around the utility pole and all three islands with shrubs and perennials. Landscaping is also planned for the north side of the lot along Broadway Street next summer. We’re planning an electric vehicle charging station on the north edge. Center Avenue will remain open through the winter.

The timeline on the sidebar under "Expansion Documents" shows a quick reference of the complexity and details of our expansion project. We are on track to begin building improvements in Spring 2017, but there’s a lot to accomplish before then! We’re inching toward the final plans and scope of the project. Then we assemble the financing package.
    

Many of you have asked about Preferred Share Cooperative Investments (Class C) and that’s very exciting as we will need to raise owner equity to make the project work. Thanks for your confidence and support as we grow the VFC! Our Board of Directors is preparing a Capital Campaign launch in January 2017. As a VFC owner, look for an invitation in the mail to attend this event and learn about Class C investments.
    

It’s important to the Co-op that we work with local lenders on the project, but to make that happen we have to get creative with financing. We’ll continue with our status as a USDA Rural Development project, and we are pursuing New Market Tax Credit Program for gap funding.
    

The City of Viroqua agreed to apply for a Community Development Investment (CDI) Grant on our behalf. The CDI Program supports small city and rural community redevelopment efforts by providing financial incentives for shovel-ready projects with emphasis on downtown, community-driven efforts. Funded activities should lead to measurable benefits in job opportunities, property values, and leveraged investment by local and private partners. We’re a good fit for this grant and have an excellent chance of securing it.
    

Our primary and secondary loans will be a combination of local and cooperative lending institutions, respectively; the same as when we funded the relocation project in 2005. We’re also working on Focus on Energy programs and other potential USDA grants. If you are interested in greater detail, attend one of the Board events, reach out to our Board of Directors on our website, or contact General Manager Jan Rasikas directly. Watch for more information on this page.


EXPANSION UPDATE: October 28, 2016

Brief Update

Expansion Updates

Phase I (parking lot) construction continues. We know that parking is especially challenging during this phase. 

 Our staff continues to refrain from parking within 1-2 blocks
from the store to ensure our customers can park as close as possible.

You are welcome to leave your groceries in the Co-op after purchasing.
Ask a staff member to assist you by bringing groceries to your vehicle,
we're happy to help!

 

What a difference a day makes! Here's further insight regarding the status of the new parking lot:

  • 10-30-16: Concrete paving begins, including light pole bases, plus paint parking lines
  • 11-4-16: Replant landscaping before winter (minimal; remainder planted in spring 2017)

  • 11-15-16 (potential rain delay): Customer parking becomes available on 3/4 of new lot!

     

We really appreciate your patience through the construction process!

 

EXPANSION UPDATE: October 13, 2016

Brief Update

10-12_for_web.jpg

For the following ~3.5 weeks, we asked our staff to refrain from parking within 1-2 blocks from the store to ensure our customers can park as close as possible.

Weather permitting, we’re on track to finishing about 3/4 of the new parking lot by the first week of November. Should go something like this:

  • 10-12-16: Site Layout & Staking – 1 day
  • 10-12 to 10-13: Electrical Underground – 2 days

  • 10-13 (potential rain delay): Tree Spade moves 3 trees – 1 day

  • 10-13 to 10-14: Gravel Parking Lot – 2 days

  • 10-17 to 10-18: Concrete Curb & Gutter – 2 days 

  • 10-19 to 10-25: Concrete Paving – 5 days 

  • 10-31 to 11-1: Light Pole Bases – 2 days 

  • 10-31 to 11-1: Landscaping along east lot line – 2 days 

When the concrete has cured enough, we will stripe and be able to use about 3/4 of the new lot.
Whoo hoo! This will give us more spaces than the old east lot. The remaining parking lot construction will be finished in the summer of 2017. 

Thank you for your patience!

 

 

EXPANSION UPDATE: October 3, 2016

Brief Update

We have a beautiful day to begin the expansion project!

  • The "exit only" out to Rusk Ave is closed for the winter.
  • Plants from our beds are getting transferred to a holding area to be planted next year.
  • Buildings from the Sidie lot come down this week.

Please stay clear of the area, asbestos removal is scheduled for Tuesday October 4th.

9-30_10-3_



 

EXPANSION UPDATE: September 30, 2016

From Jan Rasikas, General Manager

Although expansion planning has been happening at the Co-op for a while, we’re ready for some action on the ground!

2016_expansion_pre-digging.jpg
Phase I officially begins:

  • Monday October 3rd: the area by the storage shed gets cleared of concrete. We’ll put in load of good black soil (repurposed later on) to create a "holding tank" for as much of our existing landscape plants as possible. We’ll use these next spring to re-plant new areas. A big tree-spade will move some of our beautiful trees to the far east side on the lot. A few trees will come down per the recommendation of our landscaper Rebecca Wainscott of Sacred Ground Landscaping. Of course the Walnut from Sidie’s will come down – finally, no more walnuts dropping on parked cars!
  • Tuesday October 4th: the abatement company removes roof underlayment containing asbestos on the Sidie buildings. As a result, there may not be many pieces in the "recycle free pile" from these buildings. Next, C & C Landscaping folks will remove two buildings from site. All of the concrete blocks and foundations will be recycled, but some materials must go to a specific site.
  • Friday October 7th-Friday October 14th: C & C removes remaining concrete parking lot, grades the site and installs gravel base.

Stay tuned for regular updates and progress reports.