Groundbreaking took place last week for a grocery cooperative in Bethlehem, PA, which has been described by city officials as “the most important project in the City.” And a grocery cooperative signed a lease for a property in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. It will be the organization’s fourth location in the city.
The Bethlehem Food Co-op, founded in 2011, has been growing its membership and searching for a space for its full-service store. A site was found last year, and once opened the 6,500 square foot co-op will be the anchor tenant for a mixed-use project that the developer expects will include 41 apartments. The store will be owned by its 1,115 members, who paid a one-time $300 fee to join and will enjoy members-only discount prices. The public will also be welcome to shop.
Funding for the co-op includes a $2.9 million federal grant, secured with the help of U.S. Representative Susan Wild. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the development sits on the eastern edge of a low-income census tract in which a significant number of residents live more than a half-mile from the nearest supermarket. The existence of the co-op will change that.
The new co-op in Philadelphia will be the fourth Weavers Way location in the city once it moves into a former 6,000 square foot Acme supermarket in Germantown. Opening is slated for summer 2023.
Weavers Way was founded in 1973 by a computer programmer who started selling apples from his porch and then from a small co-op in the basement of a church. The co-op has 1,400 member households who live in the immediate area. The store plans to offer shelf space and opportunities to new vendors through the organization’s Vender Diversity program. The city’s commerce department has offered support and the store will be financed in part by Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative.