BELFAST — Belfast Community Co-op is about to embark on a historic project — a full renovation of the building it has owned and occupied in downtown Belfast since 1993.

Co-op member-owners and interested members of the public are invited to meet, greet, and receive an update on the renovation plans and financing for the project at the Hutchinson Center on Friday, Jan. 13, from 5:30 to 7:45 p.m. The meeting will also be available over Zoom.

According to a press release from the Co-op, after six years of market and feasibility studies, extensive review by industry experts, exploring options from building new to relocating, and member-owner forums, focus groups, and open meetings, the Co-op board decided the top priorities for the renovation are:

  • Reopening the much-missed café and making it better than ever, with new services, new equipment, an updated menu, and an improved seating area, while keeping the natural light and existing materials.
  • Continuing the Shop For Me curbside pickup service, which allows the store to expand its accessibility.
  • Adding an additional 33% of retail square footage by relocating offices, prep spaces, coolers and vents to other locations off the sales floor.
  • Doubling the bulk department selections.
  • Reorganizing the parking lot to make it more pedestrian-friendly.
  • Investing in the infrastructure to keep the facility safe.

Partners on the project will include architectural firm Woodhull, formerly known as Caleb Johnson Studio, and builder Warren Construction. Both have experience designing and building retail businesses and will stage construction so that the Co-op remains open throughout the process.

General Manager Doug Johnson said in the press release, “After years of work, the Co-op is excited to say that we’re finally at a place where we have an affordable project that will meet the current and future needs of the Co-op and our community.”

Board President Susan Cutting said, “The Board is enthusiastically supporting this project. We see the Co-op as at the heart of our community and local economy. We are committed to ensuring the future of our community’s primary source for healthy and sustainable foods and supporting our region’s farmers and other local producers.”

Zoom participants can register via a link at belfast.coop/january-13-owner-forum.

Member-owners planning to attend in person can RSVP via email to board@belfast.coop.