Co-op closes on Easthampton property

  • This image shows an artist’s rendering of the new River Valley Co-op on Northampton Street in Easthampton. THOMAS DOUGLAS ARCHITECTS

Staff Writer
Published: 2/11/2020 10:03:38 PM

EASTHAMPTON — River Valley Co-op has officially closed on a nearly 10-acre property on Northampton Street, marking a significant milestone as it builds a second location.

The cooperatively owned grocery store, on North King Street in Northampton, received approval to build its new 23,000-square-foot Easthampton store from the city’s Planning Board in March 2019. But Dorian Gregory, the president of the co-op’s board, said the project has been in the works for far longer.

“We’ve been working at this for over five years,” she said, describing last week’s closing as a “huge milestone.”

“As soon as we can do some groundbreaking, we plan to,” she said.

Finalizing the purchase from Mountain View Investors puts River Valley Co-op on a path to complete construction of the Easthampton store by spring 2021. Captain Jack’s Seafood Shack, which currently sits on the old Fedor Oldsmobile Pontiac property, has signed a lease with the co-op.

The new location will occupy around 4 acres of the property, and will include 200 shaded parking spaces covered by solar panels. Gregory said that will be the biggest difference between the Easthampton store and the Northampton store.

“The additional parking will certainly take some pressure off the Northampton store,” she said.

The addition of the solar panels, she added, is another difference. “We’re going to be one of the first net-zero grocery stores in the country.”

Gregory said the co-op, which already has 11,000 member owners, hopes the new location will allow the store to expand its ownership, employee base and wholesale purchases from local food producers. Some 1,700 owners already live in Easthampton.

The total cost of the project is expected to be more than $18 million. More than 300 co-op owners pitched in to give $5 million in personal loans to make the project a reality. The local bankESB provided the loan together with the National Community Investment Fund, a community development financial institution. 

For its part, the city of Easthampton took advantage of a state MASSWorks grant to complete road, intersection, crosswalk and sidewalk improvements as part of the project. The co-op also used federal “new market tax credits” to move the project forward.

“We’re continuing to work as a community-owned cooperative to connect with more and more people in Easthampton and to invite people to shop the store,” Gregory said. “But also to become owners and collectively owning a community asset that we care about and will nourish the community.”

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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