New Pioneer Food Co-op to Open Third Store in Cedar Rapids

By Chelsea Keenan, Reporter

New Pioneer Food Co-op at 22 South Van Buren Street in Iowa City as seen on Thursday, June 17, 2010. (Matt Nelson/SourceMedia Group)

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By Kayleigh Milas

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — New Pioneer Food Co-op will open a third location in Cedar Rapids at 3338 Center Point Road NE, in the former Fin & Feather space. The food co-op said Tuesday that the store will be operating by early 2015.

New Pioneer, which has locations in Coralville and Iowa City, announced plans to expand in May. After co-op members approved the idea, the co-op conducted market studies within its trade area to decide where to build the third location.

Matt Hartz, New Pioneer's general manager, said the co-op settled on Cedar Rapids for its third location because of its strong member base and New Pioneer's ability to further grow the base. Although the store won't be open until 2015, New Pioneer will hold educational events and begin forming partnerships in the community, he said.

New Pioneer secured a purchase agreement for the building, and Hartz said the co-op will pay $975,00 for the property in cash, which is below the assessed value of $1.1 million.

"We've been planning to expand, and the business in financially healthy," he said "So we've been building up funds to invest in new facilities."

The building will have about 10,000 square feet of retail space and will be similar in size to New Pioneer's Coralville location. The Iowa City store has about 5,000 square feet of retail space.

Hartz said the building is in good condition and won't need an extensive amount of remodeling. "We'll just have to equip it as a supermarket," he said.

Sarah Walz, the co-op's board president, said some changes will also be made to the exterior of the building as well as the parking lot, including better storm water management and adding energy efficient features. No construction schedule has been set, but Walz anticipates it to begin after the holiday season.

New Pioneer's decision to open a location in Cedar Rapids does not change its desire to move its Iowa City store, she said, adding the co-op will continue to pursue locating a new, larger spot outside of the floodplain.

Earlier this year, New Pioneer leaders hoped to relocate the store from 22 S. Van Buren St. to the central business district. But the Iowa City council awarded the property to developer Marc Moen, who plans to build a 20-story building with first-floor retail that includes a bowling alley and movie theater.

"We will get a new store in Iowa City," she said.

New Pioneer's announcement closely follows that of North Carolina-based gourmet grocery store Fresh Market, which said on Sept. 26 that it plans to open its first Iowa location in Cedar Rapids by late 2014. However, Hartz said Fresh Market's decision did not influence or hasten New Pioneer.

"We were aware of their interest in Cedar Rapids and their intentions for several months, and we did incorporate that into our financial analysis and planning," he said.

"We were able to monitor what their impact was on the market, and it did not have a significant financial impact on us." he added.

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