Wilson Station - Owners Meeting Summary

Two weeks ago, Chicago Market hosted the first meeting about our pursuit of the Gerber Building at the Wilson Red Line station. Because Chicago Market is a cooperative committed to transparency and Owner democracy, it was fitting this first meeting was exclusively for our Owners.

The meeting was completely packed.
By the end, it was standing-room only, with enthusiastic Owners eager to learn more about the project - and eager to ask some important and critical questions of their own about the project. The amount of enthusiasm for the project was wonderful to see.

First, the presentation:

Board President Grant Kessler
gave a short description of the history of Chicago Market, how Chicago Market got to the point where it was ready to pursue this location, and outlined some statistics - for example, we now have more than 900 Owners!
Funding Director (and Board Member) Greg Berlowitz
described the building and its history in more detail, gave many details about what Chicago Market hopes to bring to the space and outlined the RFP process.
Jacqueline Hannah of the Food Coop Initiative
joined us to talk about the impact of grocery co-ops on the communities around them, and about how important the work of Owners was to get this project off the ground.
Alderman (and Owner #500!) James Cappelman
made an unplanned appearance, and spoke about how he was pushing this project forward with the Mayor's office and the CTA, and how excited he was to bring Chicago Market to Uptown. 
Board Member Karen Jacobs
facilitated a Q&A session.

If you'd like to see the whole presentation,  check it out! We also hope to post video of Jacqueline's speech, since it was awesome and informative.

The response to the RFP is due June 9. That response will include our formal application, as well as letters of support from community organizations and the responses to our petition of support. 

As we promised at the meeting, we'll post a list of all of the questions (as well as other common questions regarding the Wilson site) on our blog in the coming days. But here are a few highlights from Owners:

Will the space have parking/a loading dock?
Yes. There is a lot behind the building that could hold approximately 50 cars and provide loading facilities, and we are including this lot in our proposal to the CTA.
Will Owners be able to (or required to) work in the store, like in some other co-ops.
No. There are legal issues that make Owners performing unpaid labor a potential violation of state and federal law. Chicago Market is excited to bring approximately 70 jobs to Uptown if this project goes forward.
Are there any restrictions because of the historical status of the building?
The only restrictions cover the facade (which should not impact operations) and a large staircase inside the structure that cannot be removed.
Will we have a window that sells coffee and breakfast food?
Given the location, we hope to! We are definitely looking at having a robust selection of prepared foods as well to accommodate train travelers. 
Is the location safe?
Chicago Market would be only part of a $203 million total renovation of the Wilson Red Line stop. With combination of these renovations and a bright, well-trafficked grocery store, as well as careful planning and work with the city and the Alderman's office, we are doing everything possible to ensure that safety will not be a problem for the store. 

We got a ton of other great suggestions from Owners - the co-operative spirit was definitely alive and well in this meeting!

The biggest takeaway from the meeting: Chicago Market needs our Owners' help in order to succeed. Owners suggested community organizations we should meet with, possible connections with individuals at the city or the CTA, and events Chicago Market could attend.

Most of all, Chicago Market needs your help with some things to make this a success:

Sign and share our petition. We have more than 1300 signatures already, and it's incredibly important for us to show the CTA that Chicago Market has overwhelming community support. Sign the petition. Share it on social media. Share it with organizations you belong to. Anyone can sign, whether they are an Owner or not.

Help us recruit more Owners.  Many new Owners have joined since the announcement, and we need many more. We need 1500 Owners in order to make this site a reality.  That sounds like a lot, but if each existing Owner recruited one friend, we'd blow past that goal easily. 

Become a Volunteer.  Email  if you are interested.

Attend one of our community meetings. On May 10 and 20, we'll be hosting community meetings and we'd love as many Owners to come and support Chicago Market as possible. Check out the  events page  for more details.

If you have questions, suggestions or want to help, please reach out!  Email us  - we will respond to all questions and comments.

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