Image from WBNA
West Side group seeks natural foods grocery to partner
Big incentives for “right fit” grocer or co-op in newly constructed, green retail space
Providence, Rhode Island – October 4, 2010 – The West Broadway Neighborhood Association (WBNA) seeks proposals and is offering substantial incentives for a healthy, affordable, natural grocery store or food cooperative to occupy the ground floor retail space of its newly constructed building on Westminster Street.
On a site that was once a vacant and blighted auto shop, the sparkling new mixed-use building at 1577 Westminster Street is the result of collaboration between the WBNA and SpurwinkRI, two organizations that came together with the express purpose of creating a place that would contribute positively to the community.
“The community has been integral to this project from its inception. The WBNA held a design competition, and neighbors chose the winning design,” said Kari Lang, Executive Director of the WBNA. “But the crucial focus of the project came when the community repeatedly asked for a local, affordable and natural grocery store. It became imperative to address that need by opening the ground floor to a local food co-op or small business owner.”
To help meet the financial needs of a startup grocery business, the WBNA secured a three year Community Impact Grant from the United Way to attract and provide incentives to an urban local food cooperative initiative in its new space. The grant enables the neighborhood group to offer rent subsidies, solar panels, and other perks, as well as funds towards refrigeration equipment and an Outreach Coordinator for the chosen applicant.
“We are thrilled to have a grant from the United Way that allows us to offer substantial supports to a grocery so that it can become a strong, stable business,” said WBNA Treasurer Jean Poehler. “Speaking as a former small business owner and advisor of business plans, this truly is a tremendous opportunity. And the buzz is palpable – neighbors are thrilled that, by early next year, they can walk to buy affordable, natural food.”
By its occupancy date early next year, the building is sure to give back on many levels. The structure is not only designed with green materials and with architectural sensitivity to its historic neighborhood, but also contains the mission and purpose of its two nonprofit owners. SpurwinkRI is to provide affordable housing to individuals with disabilities on the upper floors, while the WBNA serves the needs of the community on the ground floor by bringing a healthy, affordable, natural food grocery or cooperative to its retail space.
The 1577 Westminster Street project has become the centerpiece of the WBNA’s “SWELL” campaign that supports local food systems and community economic development. “SWELL” is an acronym for “Shop, Work, Eat and Live Local,” and is at the heart of the group’s request for proposals. The group seeks a grocer or co-op that carries Rhode Island and other local products and that would be open to the public as a full service grocery store.
For a copy of the Request for Proposal please contact Kari Lang at the WBNA at firstname.lastname@example.org or 831-9344. Proposals are due on Oct. 28, 2010.