First Steps Taken for Expansion of Co-op
Questions still need to be answered.
The initial efforts to expand the Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-op located at the Takoma Junction have been undertaken, but there are several questions to be answered before an expansion plan is selected, said a member of the co-op's Board of Representatives.
During the last quarter of 2010, the co-op board established an Expansion Task Force and created an expansion reserve fund of $500,000 dedicated to the possible expansion of the co-op, said David Walker, co-op treasurer. By creating the task force and the expansion reserve fund, the Takome Park Silver Spring Co-op is making clear it is serious about expanding at the Takoma Junction site, he added.
The co-op has two locations, 201 Ethan Allen Ave. in Takoma Park and 8309 Grubb Road in Silver Spring. It is the Ethan Allen Avenue store that the Board of Representatives wants to expand.
The expectation is the Ethan Allen Avenue co-op would expand onto the parking lot right next to it, but that is not a decision that has been made yet, Walker said. The purpose of the expansion task force is to study alternatives and to recommend one or more specific plans to the Board of Representatives, he added.
If the board accepts a proposal, the plan would be presented to the co-op's membership for approval, he added.
"Because this is a major capital undertaking we want to get member buy-in, because our members are our owners," he said.
However, nothing has been determined yet by the Expansion Task Force, and there are plenty of possibilities, Walker said.
"For example, the Expansion Task Force might recommend creating a deli, which wouldn't require expansion onto the empty lot but could be accomplished by taking over one of the empty buildings at the junction, and develop it as a free-standing business," he said.
But "the most likely outcome is to expand onto the vacant lot" next to the existing store, Walker said. That "could either be an expansion of our current facility," which would be to build an addition, or possibly build a new facility next to the current co-op building, and then there would be two buildings at the site, he added.
However, there are several questions the task force needs to find the answers to before a specific plan is selected, Walker said.
The first two important questions: What does the co-op want to develop? What would the budget be?
"That is, is it [any new facility] just a store, or stores and offices that can be leased to others?" he said. "Are we going to have surface parking, or are we going to have parking on a lower level behind the building?"
The traffic flow through the junction is another issue, because the expansion could generate so much traffic that it would disrupt traffic at the junction, he said. Traffic is already a problem with the lights in that area.
And there are questions if an expansion can be financially supported, Walker said.
"If we're going to double the size of our facility, how are we going to have sufficient sales to support that? Are we going to sell more food to our existing number of customers, or are we going to have to recruit new customers who do not shop at our business in order to fulfill the financial requirements imposed by an expansion?" he said.
"If we do have to recruit new customers, why aren't they shopping at the store now, and what are we going to sell to them? All of these questions have to be addressed," he said, adding that is the task force's next undertaking.