Dear Willy Street Co-op Owners,
I am writing to you today requesting approval of an expenditure of funds up to $4 million for a remodel of Willy East. These are exciting times for our Co-op. Willy West, opened just two-and-a-half years ago, is hitting sales goals we had hoped to achieve five years after opening. Our staff has grown to over 330 people, and our community of Owners exceeds 30,000 people. WOW! The Co-op’s Board and management feel that it is time to reinvest in our Eastside location.
To provide a little background on the remodel…. Back in 2004, the Willy Street Co-op Board of Directors approved a three-fold expansion plan that included opening a second retail site, opening a production facility and remodeling 1221. The first two goals have been accomplished and for the past year the Co-op has been working toward achieving the third. To that end, in August 2012 Willy Street Co-op Owners approved $2 million dollars to be spent on a remodel of Willy East, located at 1221 Williamson Street. The initial scope of work included re-merchandizing internal departments, a redesign of the loading dock and receiving area, and a floor replacement.
Over the subsequent months, I received fantastic input on the project from Owners, staff and Board members, including lots of ideas for how Willy East could be improved. As a result, the scope of the project grew to include a potential second story over parts of the building, LEED certification to help the site become more sustainable, an expanded commons area, and more. Recognizing that $2 million is not enough capital to bring a project like this to life, the Board of Directors has directed me to seek your approval to spend up to $4 million (including the $2 million already approved) on the remodel.
The Willy Street Co-op Bylaws state in section 6.4 that, “Any decision to buy or sell the Co-op’s building(s) or to spend over 10% of the Co-op’s total equity on an expansion project must be approved by the Owners.” Although some may debate whether or not a remodel ought to fit under the umbrella of “expansion,” seeking Owner approval to spend up to $4 million on the project certainly seems like the right thing to do. In order to move this project along as efficiently as possible, paper and online ballots will be distributed on July 1st, 2013 inside the July Co-op Reader and in the store. Voting will run through July 16th, 2013, with online voting wrapping up slightly earlier on July 14th, 2013 (to give us time to count the ballots and cross reference them to paper ballots). A special meeting will be called on July 16th, 2013 to count the votes and announce the results!
If Owners approve up to $4 million be spent on the 1221 remodel, we will finalize our remodel plans, share them with the Ownership and begin construction early this fall. We are planning on a phased construction project that will allow the store to remain open while portions are under construction. If Owners vote no, we will do a significantly reduced remodel project focusing on maintenance and needed structural improvements (like a new roof) that remains within the original $2 million limit approved last August. This will mean revising our remodel plans and delaying construction to later this fall.
Frequently asked questions can be found here. Post any additional questions in the comments section, and we will do our best to answer them in a timely fashion. Please also feel free to contact me directly with any other questions or concerns you may have.
Thank you for your continued participation in our Co-op!
Yours in Cooperation,
Anya Firszt, General Manager
We've collected the answers to questions we've heard here (http://www.willystreet.coop/projects/willy-east-remodel-vote-faqs) and we'll add more as we get them.