Olympia Food Co-op Expansion
about Membership Departments Product Info Classes & Events Employment Newsletter Forum Contact
 

 

Expansion

General ::: Site ::: Co-Location ::: Expansion in the CoOp News ::: What's New ::: Contact


Site Assessment Statement

June 1, 2008

Statement of Intention The Olympia Food Co-op is committed to identifying a location in downtown Olympia on which to develop a new store. The site selected must be large enough to accommodate 5,000 ­ 10,000 square feet of retail space for the co-op, as well as adequate space for warehouse and administrative functions.

In addition, it is a stated goal of this process to attempt to co-locate with other businesses and non-profits that share the co-opšs mission and values. At this time we donšt know how much space to include for potential co-location partners. However, we understand that the site chosen must also be of sufficient size to accommodate potential co-location partners, and we are committed to pursuing opportunities that will further the co-location goal.

Potential sites will be analyzed using the criteria below, which was developed by the site criteria and selection committee. The committee included representatives from staff, membership, the board of directors, and the expansion committee.

In addition to the site criteria, two overriding commitments will guide expansion process:
1. The Co-op will seek the support of local tribes for this project and include their voices in project development and building design in recognition that the land was taken from the Native People who originally inhabited this area. 2. The ongoing financial health of the organization will be maintained.


I. Most Significant Criteria
A. Access
1. Wheelchair access
Increasing the number of people who can access the downtown store by wheelchair is consistent with the co-op mission and values. Regardless of the location chosen, the downtown store will be required to meet applicable Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. However, specific sites may be easier or harder to access depending on surrounding topography and infrastructure. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Sites rated 1 would have significant wheelchair access challenges, for example lack of sidewalks and/or curb cuts within a 3 block radius, and on a steep street. Sites rated 10 would have ideal wheelchair access conditions, for example excellent sidewalk access and curb cuts within 3 blocks, and on flat streets.

2. Delivery vehicle access
Easy access for delivery vehicles is critical to the success of the new downtown store. Products arrive by truck several times a day, and some of the trucks are quite large. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Sites rated 1 would have significant access challenges for delivery vehicles, for example sites located in the core of downtown, on the most congested streets, and inability to design a loading dock. Sites rated 10 would have ideal delivery vehicle access, for example sites located on the periphery of downtown, on less congested streets, and where loading docks could easily be incorporated into building design.

3. Bicycle access
Increasing the number of people who can access the downtown store via bicycle will minimize the storešs environmental impact and carbon footprint, and is consistent with the co-op mission and values. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Sites rated 1 would have poor bicycle access, for example sites located on more congested streets, on streets that lack bike lanes, or on steeper streets. Sites rated 10 would have ideal bicycle access, for example sites located on less congested streets, on streets with bike lanes, and on flat streets.

4. Pedestrian access
Increasing the number of people who can access the downtown store as pedestrians will minimize the storešs environmental impact and carbon footprint, and is consistent with the co-op mission and values. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Sites rated 1 would have poor pedestrian access, for example sites located on streets that lack sidewalks, are further from population nodes, or on steeper streets. Sites rated 10 would have ideal pedestrian access, for example sites located on streets with sidewalks, closer to population nodes, and on flat streets.

5. Transit access
Increasing the number of people who can access the downtown store via transit will minimize the storešs environmental impact and carbon footprint, and is consistent with the co-op mission and values. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Sites rated 1 would have poor transit access, for example sites located on streets that are not within 2 blocks of a transit route, and are farthest away from the Olympia Transit Center. Sites rated 10 would have ideal transit access, for example sites located on streets with primary transit routes and closest to the Olympia Transit Center.

6. Parking availability (all vehicle types)
While bicycle and pedestrian access are significant criteria in site selection, many people will access the downtown store via automobiles. Providing a sufficient number of auto parking spaces is critical to the success of the store. Providing a sufficient number of bicycle parking spaces will also be important to maximize the number of trips made by that mode. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Sites rated 1 would have no on-street or off- street parking within 2 blocks, be in the core of downtown, and have little or no potential for on-site parking. Sites rated 10 would have on-street or off-street parking available within 2 blocks, be on the periphery of downtown, with excellent potential for on-site parking.

7. Utility access
For the most part, downtown Olympia is well-served with access to modern, adequately-sized utility infrastructure systems (water, sewer, wastewater, electricity, and telecommunications). However, some sites are better in this regard than others. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Sites rated 1 would lack a complete range of necessary utility infrastructure, or require the co-op to pay for up-sizing to accommodate the downtown store. Sites rated 10 would have excellent utility infrastructure, and require no costs for system upgrade.

B. Financial
1. Cost (long term and short term) No matter how one looks at it, developing a new store in downtown Olympia will be an expensive undertaking, from both a short and long term perspective. However, different sites will have different costs, and the mix of short and long-term costs will vary between sites. Costs will also vary depending on whether the co-op purchases a site or opts to lease. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Sites rated 1 would be the most expensive sites to develop in the short term and the most expensive to operate in the long term. Sites rated 10 would be the least expensive to develop in the short term and operate in the long term.

2. Environmental contamination and seismic risk
Much of downtown Olympia has a history of industrial use, which has resulted in varying levels of surface, soil and groundwater contamination. In addition, certain areas of downtown are more prone to the impacts of the earthquakes which are a periodic occurrence in this region; either because they are located on fill, in a liquefaction zone, or both. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Sites rated 1 would be those with a high uncertainty regarding the level of environmental contamination, the potential for lengthy and costly clean-up, be most at risk during earthquakes, and require the most significant seismic upgrades. Sites rated 10 would be in areas least likely to have uncertainty regarding the level of environmental contamination, the quickest and least expensive clean up requirements, the least risk for earthquake damage, and no requirements for seismic upgrades.

C. Sustainability
1. Sea level rise
There is a clear scientific consensus that as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, rising sea levels will almost certainly be one of the many impacts. Given its waterfront location, downtown Olympia is especially vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise. While it is impossible to know precisely how much sea levels will rise and how quickly, prudent planning dictates that this issue be factored into the decision-making process for any downtown development project. The City of Olympia has projected and mapped the impacts of various sea level increases coupled with various tide levels. Under the worst case scenario analyzed (3 foot sea level rise coupled with a 19 foot tide, most areas north of Legion Way, east of the 4th & 5th avenue bridges, and west of Plum Street would experience flooding. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Sites rated 1 would be those within the worst case scenario zone. Sites rated 10 would be those furthest away from the worst case scenario zone.

2. Opportunity for green design/remodel
One goal of the downtown expansion is to create a building that minimizes its environmental impact and is a showcase for environmental sustainability and resource efficiency. Different locations have different potential in this regard. Likewise, sites with existing buildings that would require remodeling are different than without existing buildings, or sites that have existing buildings that would require removal. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Sites rated 1 would pose the most challenges for green design, for example sites with existing resource intensive buildings. Sites rated 10 would have the most potential for green design, for example vacant sites or sites containing buildings that would be most easily converted to a more sustainable form.

3. Clean energy potential
Having the potential to produce some energy or heat on-site (solar, wind, methane recovery) could dramatically lower the operating costs of the new store, and support the co-ops mission and values. Different sites have different potential in this regard. For example, a site with an existing building with little or no southern exposure would have limited potential to capture solar energy, and a site located adjacent to taller buildings than the store is likely to have limited wind energy potential. On the other hand, a site located near the LOTT treatment plant might be able to utilize excess methane for space heating. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Sites rated 1 would have no cost-effective clean energy potential. Sites rated 10 would have excellent potential to create clean energy.

D. Social
1. Opportunity for outside space
Including outdoor space for dining, gardening and personal interactions will help ensure that the new store is a unique destination that supports community-building. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Sites rated 1 would have very limited potential for functional outdoor space. Sites rated 10 would have the best potential for developing outdoor space to facilitate community-building.


II. Desired Characteristics

1. Ownership potential
In order to control long-term costs and ensure that we control our own destiny, there is a preference to own the site of the downtown store. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). Sites rated 1 will have no potential for ownership. Sites rated 5 will be sites with the best ownership potential.

2. Ease of permitting, zoning, and other regulations
For a variety of reasons, developing a store in downtown Olympia will present a unique, and perhaps more difficult, set of regulatory challenges than developing a store outside of the downtown. While these challenges are not insurmountable, they may increase the time and costs of the project. Different areas of the downtown have different requirements, depending on their location. For example, within the downtown there are different zoning designations, design review requirements, designated pedestrian corridors, and historic districts. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). Sites rated 1 would have the highest likelihood for potentially time consuming and costly regulatory requirements, for example necessary zoning changes in order to develop a grocery store. Sites rated 5 would have the least potential for being delayed by regulatory burdens.

3. Neighborhood acceptance and compatibility
It is important that the downtown store is embraced by the downtown community and is compatible with nearby developments in terms of scale and design. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). Sites rated 1 would have the least potential to be embraced by the surrounding neighborhood and the most unlikely to be compatible with existing development. Sites rated 5 would have the best potential for broad neighborhood acceptance and the most likely to be compatible with existing development.

4. Room to grow and expand
Beyond the initial space needs, it is also important to consider future needs of the co-op (and potential partners) and whether the chosen site has the potential for further expansion. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). Sites rated 1 would essentially be ŗbuilt out˛ from day one. Sites rated 5 would have the highest potential for future cost effective expansion.

5. Local landlord with shared values
If the co-op chooses to lease a site as opposed to buying, it is important to consider the relationship between the co-op and the landowner. However, it is also important to remember that a leased site is always at risk for being sold to someone with different values and priorities, so this criterion can only be assessed with any certainty in the present. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). Sites rated 1 would be owned by an out of town landlord with no history of supporting the co-opšs values. Sites rated 5 would be owned by a local landlord with a demonstrated history of supporting the co-opšs values.

6. Visibility
Having a highly visible location may help ensure the financial viability of the new store. Some areas of the downtown are more visible than others based on topography, traffic flow, and land use. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). Sites rated 1 would be the least visible, for example sites situated between large buildings or off of major transportation corridors. Sites rated 5 would be the most visible, for example on major transportation corridors, or on physically prominent locations.

7. Ambiance
Ambiance is a hard to quantify characteristic, and will be shaped in large measure by the design of the new store. However, different sites can have different levels of ambiance based on physical location and surrounding land use. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). Sites rated 1 would have the least ambiance. Sites rated 5 would have the most ambiance.

III. Other Considerations

1. Vehicle and highway access
While the site of the new store will, ideally, be well suited for bicycle, pedestrian and transit access there will be people who access the store using motor vehicles. Some areas of the downtown are easier to get to in an auto based on street design and traffic flow. In addition, delivery vehicles, and some customers, will access the new store via the highway. Sites closest to the highway access points would be most convenient to these users. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 3 (highest). Sites rated 1 would have the most challenges for vehicle access and be located furthest from the highway. Sites rated 3 would have the easiest vehicle access and be closest to the highway.

2. Located for efficient delivery for local farmers and producers
The co-op has a strong commitment to connecting local farmers and food producers to consumers. To facilitate this objective, it is important to consider the location of the downtown store in relation to the sitešs ease of delivery for local farmers and producers. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 3 (highest). Sites rated 1 would have the most difficult delivery access, for example located on congested streets with no adjacent on-street or off street parking. Sites rated 3 would be located in proximity to the Olympia Farmeršs Market, on less congested streets, and with sufficient parking.

3. Existing building
Building new buildings requires the extraction of and transportation of raw and finished materials. On the other hand, renovating an existing building may use fewer raw materials, and prevents the creation of waste which must be transported off site and deposited in landfills. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 3 (highest). Sites rated 1 would have no existing building. Sites rated 3 would have an existing building which could be efficiently converted to the desired use.

5. Traffic Congestion impacts
A successful downtown store will increase the number of vehicles traveling into, around, and out of downtown Olympia. Different parts of the downtown have different existing levels of traffic congestion, and different sites would have different traffic impacts. This criterion will be rated on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 3 (highest). Sites rated 1 would have the most negative impact on traffic, for example adding additional vehicles to already congestion streets. Sites rated 3 would have the least impact, for example those sites located on streets with the ability to absorb extra traffic.