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This article was published 27/7/2011 (3039 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Representatives for Neechi Foods say the popular North End-based grocery co-op’s new retail outlet is expected to open this fall following a series of delays.
The co-op, which is currently based out of 325 Dufferin Ave., was originally slated to open its new 30,000-sq. ft. outlet at 865 Main St. in February of this year.
The new location is now scheduled to open in October or November, according to project co-ordinator Russ Rothney.
Project architect Wins Bridgman said the delays were due to stakeholders wanting to keep as much of the of the existing building — the former California Fruit Market — intact.
"When working on older buildings my advice is to not tie yourself down to any construction plans too early. Things will more than likely change along the way," he said.
Rothney said the delays have contributed to an increase in the cost of the $5 million project.
"Overall, we’re looking at an increase of about 20%," he said.
Louise Champagne, president of Neechi Foods, said the opening of the new location, which will be known as Neechi Commons, will result in a significant increase in the number of individuals the company employs.
"We’ll be going from 10 employees to about 60," she said.
One of the most significant differences at the new location will the addition of a full commercial kitchen and a 60-seat restaurant.
"It will be completely wheelchair accessible and will have a great view of Main Street," she said.
Champagne said the existing Dufferin location will continue to serve as a neighbourhood convenience store and production facility for the co-op’s catering division once Neechi Commons opens.
Rothney said the new location is expected to become a retail destination for consumers searching for fish, wild rice and other regionally-produced foods.
"Homeward-bound traffic is important to us, so being on the east side of Main Street is key," he said.
"We already attract people from all over Winnipeg, but it is time to raise the profile more by being accessible to commuter traffic. This will allow us to bring in many grocery items that we would not have for the immediate community."
Area resident Gordon Smirso said he can’t wait for the new store to open. He’s been looking forward to its opening since the project was first announced in 2009 and construction began in July of 2010.
"It is a noisy time around here, but what a great noise. I’ve been here my whole life and I can’t wait," he said.
The project has received funding from both the provincial and federal levels of government while Assiniboine Credit Union and the Jubilee Fund have provided additional support.
In addition, Neechi plans to begin offering public shares in the company within the next month.
"These will be public shares for investment and not membership shares. We will be looking for long-term social investors," he said.