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Group Interested in Former Modern Home Site

Rich Egger
The Macomb Food Cooperative will explore whether it makes sense to move into this building once the site is repaired and renovated.

The city of Macomb recently acquired the rundown building at the corner of Jackson and McArthur Streets. The city is just starting the process of turning around the building but a local group is already considering whether it's a suitable site for its store.

The Macomb Food Cooperative’s current store is at 211 South McArthur Street, just down the street from the rundown property.  The group moved into the space knowing it would eventually need to expand.

“Most food co-ops that survive over an extended period of time have about 5,000 square feet or higher, including the back of the store. We have 1,125,” said Gordon Rands, chairperson of the food co-op’s Board of Directors.

The dilapidated site, which formerly housed the Modern Home furniture store, is around 20,000 square feet.  The food co-op cannot afford to buy and repair the building but it might be interested in renting a portion of the space once renovations are completed.

Food co-op shareholders agreed during a meeting Friday evening to have the board explore the idea, starting by conducting a feasibility study.

“(We will) see if an expert in co-ops believes that the community really will support it, if this location is a good location, and that it would generate enough revenue that we would be able to operate in the black,” Rands said.

The Macomb Food Cooperative's current store is at 211 South McArthur Street.

“Even if the feasibility study says yes --it’s a go, we decide it, we enter into the agreement -- it’s at least a year away and possibly longer depending upon how quickly the city moves, how quickly the developers move, all sorts of things.”

A larger space would allow the food co-op to stock more items and potentially offer a sit-down dining area, both of which could help beef up its bottom line.  The former Modern Home building is also considered a desirable location; it’s just a block west of the historic courthouse square, and a city lot right across the street provides ample parking.

Rands believes the food co-op would bring a lot to the table.

“Redeveloping that building would make quite a difference to the excitement in downtown.  And to do it with something as dynamic as a full-service grocery co-op with prepared foods and dine-in space and maybe more – we think it would be a strong asset to the city of Macomb.”

The city bought the building for $2,500 in a blind bid process during a tax deed sale. The city’s plan is to address some of the building’s code violations to prevent it from falling into further disrepair and then sell it to a developer.

The city has not yet put out an RFP (Request for Proposals) for developers.   

Rich is TSPR's News Director.