Waterloo Co-op one step closer to opening - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo Co-op one step closer to opening

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Waterloo has taken one more step towards a downtown grocery featuring locally-grown food. The city council approved a resolution leasing the city-owned public market building to a co-op that will open the store later this month.

When Dan Ankrum looks over the blueprints of the Riverloop Public Market Co-op, he envisions a bustling operation with fresh foods on hand and butchers and bakers manning their posts. It's been two years since the building went up in downtown Waterloo but it appears renovations will be ready in time for the co-op's opening later this month.

"As a restaurant owner, for us trying to source and be a farm-to-fork restaurant, it's been really difficult because there is nowhere to go. There is no co-op. You can go to Iowa City or Des Moines but not in our own backyard and we obviously have a large enough population to support something like this," said Ankrum.

Co-op leaders may find out soon. The Waterloo City Council took the formal step Monday of approving a lease agreement for the building. If the Co-op doesn't open in the next three weeks, the city stands to lose grant money that helped pay for the building.

"The original intent was for a public market. It was being used to be rented out in conjunction with the expo grounds and individual programs and that didn't work very well with the intent of the building in the first place," says Waterloo Mayor Buck Clark.

Co-op board members say they're ready to move in as soon as possible. The non-profit group needs people to sign up for memberships that cost $100 each to help pay the bills.

"It originally was a tough sell because people would see an empty building. Now that the paper's off the windows, people can see yes, there's activity. Yes, we are going to open. Memberships are fine but we always need more even after we open," said Co-op board treasurer Julie Kiefer.

Co-op officials say you don't have to have a membership to be able to shop at the store.

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