River Valley Co-op eyes 2nd location

The Recorder, January 23, 2018, by Scott Merzbach and Michael Connors

A former car dealership on Route 10 in Easthampton could become a second location for the River Valley Co-op, meeting its mission to continue building a strong local food system and accommodating the continued growth in customers at its existing Northampton site.

The idea of securing an option to purchase 228 Northampton St., previously Fedor Oldsmobile Pontiac, is about ensuring the future for the co-op, which is often crowded at its 330 King St. location, said Andrea Stanley, president of River Valley Co-op’s board.

“The current store in Northampton has some limitations that limit our growth as a co-op,” Stanley said. “There wasn’t as much of an understanding at the start, when we opened the store 10 years ago, about how much volume it would bring.”

The option on the 3.17-acre Easthampton site allows at least a year for due diligence, planning and fundraising before the co-op, which is owned by 9,500 area families, decides if it will actually buy the property.

If the co-op decides to go forward with the second location, the most optimistic timeline would be to break ground in spring 2019 and have its doors open in spring 2020.

While there was no mention of the project’s prospective cost, the Northampton store cost $7.3 million.

Plans call for 11,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor, plus additional space for preparation and staff areas. These plans also include a mezzanine-style second floor for offices, staff spaces and a community meeting space.

“We are looking to build a store of the same size, but with a larger parking lot than the Northampton store,” general manager Rochelle Prunty said in a statement.