I should start off by saying that we have no plans to leave 1221 Williamson St.
We have discussed for some time whether to extensively remodel Willy East or to open another location on the near east side of Madison. Two years ago we postponed those discussions to focus on opening Willy West. (As you know, the process went well, and I'm happy to report that - a little over one year after that store opened - it is doing extremely well. I would like to again thank our Owners for their support.) Once Willy West was up and running, we restarted our discussion about the future of Willy East. Each of the options we are discussing offer benefits and challenges.
It's apparent that Willy East is in need of remodeling, but the question we're discussing is "how much should we continue to invest in 1221 Williamson St.?" Further improvements are limited by the existing building footprint and available parking space. The site needs a new floor, a better dock and many cosmetic improvements to continue serving Owners in its current form. Despite these limitations, remodeling would be easier and less expensive (at least in the short term) than opening a new location.
Opening another location would address the "room to grow" issues that Willy East currently faces, and would likely face even with remodeling. A new location could potentially become Willy East, with 1221 Williamson serving us in another capacity (offices, production kitchen, specialized store, a multi-use site, etc.). To that end, we are exploring the possibility of locating a grocery store in the Urban Land Interests proposed development of the 800 Block of East Washington Avenue. We are not actively looking at other sites for a retail store at this time, but are always open to proposals.
Even if we open a new retail site at 800 East Washington Ave. or elsewhere on the near east side, we have no plans to abandon 1221 Williamson St.
We will keep you posted as this discussion develops.
Willy Street Co-op General Manager