Chicago Market is moving forward at an exciting pace! We're checking out sites, interviewing real estate agents and setting procurement policies. In order to give our Owners more information about what we're up to, we've asked some of our Board Members to give updates on their activities.
The first update is from Mark Ahlheim, on Site Selection and Design. Mark is a grocery store and real estate expert, and he's been hard at work trying to figure out how we find the perfect real estate agent to help make Chicago Market a reality.
As Chicago Market looks forward to securing a site for its brick-and-mortar store, we also look to bring aboard a commercial real estate agent who can represent our interests, completely understands our needs, and negotiates the best possible agreement for our space. With that in mind, we have begun that search and hope to have that person aboard soon.
Given the breadth of our needs and the strength of our ambitions, the skill sets required by our representative must necessarily be broad. We have a fairly large trade area we are looking at to locate this store, so this person must be well versed in market values in many neighborhoods; we hope to have many activities going on in our store beyond just retailing product, so this person must be knowledgeable about various zoning codes and building types beyond regular retail/commercial space that could be converted to serve our multiple purposes (e.g., an abandoned manufacturing plant, an industrial site, an empty warehouse); and since our needs might best be served by new construction, we need an agent who is a strong networker and who has deep ties to the banking and development community.
And in a perfect world, this person has a commitment to local foods and the values that underpin our cooperative community.
As a complement to our real estate representative, we also learned that site specific estimates would be most accurate if we began working with a firm that has expertise in engineering and the construction of grocery stores. Such firms have cost models used on previous construction projects and have relationships with fixture and equipment vendors specific to this industry that can help accurately project capital and operating costs. We're working on identifying firms with these skill sets and intend to short-list them once our commercial realtor is aboard.