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After weeks of keeping their new location under wraps, today Common Ground Food Co-op officially announces the site of their expanded store: Lincoln Square Village.

The co-op didn’t initially look at the former site of Lincoln Square Mall in downtown Urbana, but after discussing the 2200-foot space with city employees and managers at the Village, Common Ground Food Co-op was sold.

“We were actually blown away at how positive the conversation was, how excited they were about us and how excited we were about them,” Jacqueline Hannah, general manager of the co-op says.

Other Village occupants include Art Mart and the wildly popular Farmer’s Market, which sets up shop in the parking lot. Down the street and around the corner sits Strawberry Fields, a natural food store.

“The Farmer’s Market just feels like perfect synergy to build a real movement for local and healthy food,” Hannah says.

The new location will occupy a portion of the space Bergner’s department store previously rented on the east side of the building. Common Ground’s new digs will offer more than twice the groceries of their current space at Illinois Disciples Foundation on Springfield Avenue.

In the Village location, shoppers can be members or nonmembers. Hannah predicts that most shoppers will opt to be members and continue to add to the growth spurt the co-op has enjoyed for the past year and a half. Every month, Common Ground is seeing 50 percent more in membership growth than the co-op did in the same month of the previous year. Currently, Common Ground is made up of 1400 active members.

“We believe a lot of [shoppers] will choose to become members and whether they do or not it means that we can put so much more economic power behind local food,” Hannah says.

The Urbana storefront will feature a deli and indoor and outdoor seating along with a full-stocked freezer of local meat from Triple S Farms. According to Hannah, the new food co-op location will have an exclusive agreement to carry Triple S Farms’ meats in Champaign County. Originally the co-op was in talks to stock local wine and beer, but Common Ground decided instead to point customers in the direction of Corkscrew for their libations.

As the opening date, July 1, gets closer, Hannah says, the co-op will plan a kick-off party for the public. The co-op members will host a community meeting at the end of March to quiz Urbana residents on what they’d like to see from the newest edition to the neighborhood.

Common-Ground Food Co-op begins building on April 1.

Photo by Justine Bursoni