BELFAST — The Belfast Community Co-op is planning a major renovation to its current facility at 123 High St., which its management presented to the Belfast Planning Board Sept. 28.

The proposed plan would increase the Co-op’s size by 33%, according to General Manager Doug Johnson. During his presentation to the board, Johnson said Co-op sales have increased from $2 million in 1994 to $11.2 million in 2022. He noted that with increased sales comes the need to expand the facility and renovate the interior of the business.

Part of the plan would include bringing back the Co-op’s café with a new, larger seating area and outdoor seating, he said.

Renovations will also include an outdoor space for the Co-op’s curbside delivery program and upgrades to electrical, plumbing and refrigeration systems, Johnson said. He told the board that the Co-op plans to install a hydraulic lift system to assist in bringing in shipments into the facility.

Specific details of the plan were provided by Adrienne Fine of Terradyn Consultants. Fine said the plan calls for a full interior renovation, including construction of two building additions. An addition for the café will extend into the parking lot in front of the building on its eastern side. The second addition will be for the curbside delivery program and will extend toward Pendleton Street.

In addition to the buildouts, Fine said the Co-op is proposing to wrap the curbside addition with a landscaped island along Pendleton Street. In front of the building there will be an area for bicycle parking and for outside displays and sales. She said there will also be plantings in front of the café and that there is a plan for a patio and deck off the café for outdoor seating that will be wrapped with landscaping to buffer the area from the parking lot and help beautify the site.

In addition, Fine said a new sewer line will be installed as part of the project. The Co-op will also be upsizing its electrical and water lines and will install two new buried propane tanks. The estimated size for each of the two build-out areas will be 475 square feet.

Fine originally requested a waiver to reduce the number of current parking spaces on the lot from 49 to 44. She said with the build-out, the requirement would be for 55 parking spaces. During the conversation on parking, Code and Planning Director Bub Fournier said that the Co-op would not necessarily need a waiver, as it is allowed to count parking spaces, including public parking lots, within 1,000 feet of the structure, but the board voted anyway to approve the proposed reduction of parking places.

In response to a question on whether the Co-op will remain open during construction, Johnson said the plan is to remain open the entire time as they will be doing the renovation in phases. He said they hope to start initial construction in late October or early November, with the goal of having the café up and running by the summer of 2023.

After some more discussion regarding technical aspects of the project and the parking and pedestrian issues at the property, the Planning Board voted to approve the site plan amendments to allow the project to proceed.