Originally published at http://www.greensboro-nc.gov/index.aspx?page=36&recordid=8765
City of Greensboro leaders will gather at 10 am Saturday, November 5, to celebrate the grand opening of the Renaissance Community Cooperative and to congratulate organizers on this step toward eradicating hunger in the community by giving consumers access to fresh, healthy food in their own neighborhood.
The cooperative is a 10,500 square foot, community-owned grocery store that aims to provide good jobs, healthy living options and wealth for residents.
“I am full of emotions, knowing the genesis of where we are. In the beginning, a lot of people told me this would never happen. That it couldn’t happen. From Day One I was very optimistic. I had a ‘we’re going to get this done’ attitude,” City Councilman Jamal Fox said. “This is a big community win.”
Community leaders and neighbors in Northeast Greensboro advocated to bring a new grocery store to the shopping plaza at 2517 Phillips Ave. since Winn-Dixie closed its store there in 1998. Residents envisioned the underutilized space could lure new businesses or perhaps even elderly housing. They ultimately turned to the City for help. In 2008, Greensboro City Council spent $1 million to buy the plaza and surrounding 9.5-acre property, a portion of which was later used to build the McGirt-Horton Library.
In 2013, the City solicited proposals to redevelop the shopping plaza property. Self-Help Ventures Fund stepped forward and committed to investing at least $2.5 million in the project. City Council authorized a $2 million performance-based forgivable loan for the renovation of the shopping center. Self-Help agreed to negotiate a lease with the Renaissance Community Cooperative and create a community advisory committee that would make recommendations about the desired tenants for the renovated plaza.
In 2015, City Council approved a challenge grant of up to $250,000 in matching funds to Renaissance Community Co-op to help the store begin operations by funding some salaries and purchases of equipment. The store had a soft opening in mid-October. The cooperative has more than 700 member-owners, and aims to employ 28 people.
“The Northeast community was told they would never succeed with a co-op grocery. Well, they have proven to the naysayers that when a community and a city have a common goal – to eradicate one of the worst food deserts – they will find a way to succeed, and they have. Congratulations!” Councilwoman Marikay Abuzuaiter said.