It's heartwarming to share our journey towards bringing the Prairie Food Co-Op to life in Lombard. Over a decade of dedication and hard work has fueled our mission to create a community-owned haven for all things local and sustainable.
As much as we'd love to give you an exact opening date, we're moving forward with bright optimism, and we're looking at sometime in 2024.
Opening a store that embodies our values and relies on grants and budgeting comes with its complexities. Here's an update on the key milestones that need to be in place before we start construction:
Landlord Work - The Landlord at Eastgate (the shopping center where our store is located) needs to complete renovations as agreed to per our lease. The Landlord began this work this past January, but as with all construction projects, major delays have been encountered and we do not know when the LL will have their work complete
Grant Guidelines - State and Federal grant funds have strict requirements that need to be adhered to. At present, the State grant, announced Spring 2022, is far behind schedule. As such, PFC does not yet have clear procurement or other guidelines that must be understood before construction can begin. We cannot risk losing our grant funding by moving forward without also being in compliance with all grant requirements. The Federal grant is moving forward nicely. Both grants have stringent requirements that must be met before any work can be started. (as an aside, we would like to take a moment to publicly thank Keith Steiskal, Director of Building and Code Enforcement with the Village of Lombard. Keith has gone far above and beyond helping PFC to complete a Federally required Environmental Review. This is not something the Village has ever done, and it’s a big undertaking. We are very grateful to Keith, and the Village in general, for being so helpful)
Permitting and Budgeting - Related to the above points, the permitting and budget process has been delayed due to the lack of State guidance for grant compliance. Construction budget is similarly delayed as our construction manager needs to know the procurement guidelines for both grants before hiring contractors. PFC committed to using Union labor and while we will fulfill that internal requirement, we do not yet know what other requirements may be imposed (i.e. % of contractor businesses must be women or minority owned, etc). We are hopeful that permits and budgets will be complete in August.
Permit Approvals - Once our permits are submitted, the Village will need time to review and approve our proposed work. Our store design team has been working closely with the Village on our construction and design plans so we don’t expect any surprises. Generally, it takes between 6-8 weeks for permit approval.
Equipment - Turning an empty space into a grocery store requires A LOT of (expensive) equipment. Additionally, PFC is replacing outdated electrical panels and HVAC systems that will meet the more-intensive needs of a grocery store. While most equipment has been ordered, we cannot order HVAC and electric panels until permits are complete. Supply chain issues continue to be problematic for some equipment - namely, HVAC and electric panels. Although we don’t expect equipment delays to impact our project timeline, we thought it was important to convey this point for full transparency.
Once these important, foundational steps are accomplished, construction begins! Though we can't pinpoint an exact start date just yet, our construction manager estimates a 3-4 month period of time.
Your excitement is our driving force. We share your enthusiasm for our community-owned store, and are grateful for your patience. Together, we're weaving a vibrant tapestry that champions local farmers, nurtures our community, and more!
Stay tuned for exciting updates and events that give you a glimpse of the unique shopping experience at our store. Remember, Prairie Food Co-op is for everyone. Anyone and everyone can shop at our store, but PFC Owners get perks!
If you're not already, consider becoming a PFC Owner TODAY!