The food co-op is the first one in Northeast Wisconsin and plans to occupy 8,000 square feet of space on the BRIO Building’s first floor. Co-op leaders say they selected the site based on its visible location, ample parking and accessibility to drivers, walkers, bikers, bus riders and boaters.
“Our 1,039 member-owners told us the store needs to be visible and easy to get to, provide a wide selection of local, organic and natural foods, and create a unique shopping experience,” said Brenda Haines, Oshkosh Food Co-op board president. “The site provides a next-gen shopping experience that will attract people to our community, brings healthy food choices to an underserved part of the community and provides a market for local farmers and producers.”
The site is near Main Street, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and the Oshkosh Riverwalk in an area classified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a food desert. Food desert neighborhoods are low-income areas where traditional grocery stores are more than one mile away. Nearly 50 percent of residents in the area surrounding the food desert live below the federal poverty line.
The four-story BRIO building is a project of Merge Urban Development. The building will include 53 market-rate apartments above the Oshkosh Food Co-op. The BRIO building is one of three planned as part of a $50 million development in the Jackson Street/Pearl Avenue area. The development team is aiming for a May 2020 groundbreaking.
The Oshkosh Food Co-op launched in in 2013. The co-op plans to source about 20 percent of its goods from growers and producers within the region. To learn more, visit oshkoshfoodcoop.com.