HANOVER — A $5.3 million renovation and expansion of the Hanover Co-op Food Store on South Park Street was overwhelmingly approved by members of the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society in a month-long vote in April.
By the end of the month, more than 1,200 votes were cast, and the project was approved with 88 percent of the vote.
“This is just such a great vote of confidence in our effort,” the co-op’s communication’s director, Allan Reetz, said Friday. “Eighty-eight percent is a tremendous turnout. To have over 1,200 voters participate is really a great number, which means people really turned out to share their input.”
The co-op food store, with locations in Hanover, Lebanon, and White River Junction, Vt., is the largest locally owned grocery retailer in the Twin States.
The co-op has a total of about 30,000 members, 20,000 of which are residents of the Upper Valley region. The Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society is the second-largest food co-op in the nation, next to Puget Consumer’s Cooperative in Seattle.
The 50-year-old building is in need of a renovation and expansion. Improved energy efficiency is also part of the project with planned heating, cooling, insulation, lighting and storm-water treatment upgrades.
The store will remain open while the 2,700-square-foot expansion is underway. The expansion leaves space to add a new cafe area, expand on fresh foods prepared on site, and creates more space to smoke meat and seafood.
“Having a kitchen on site really allows the chefs and the cooks to expand on the daily offerings,” Reetz said. “The biggest benefit for the members will be certainly the fresh food. It will also provide a better flow of traffic throughout the store.”The Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society was founded by 17 local families in 1936.
“Founded during the Great Depression, it started in the basement of one of the founders’ home and then they moved into another member’s garage,” Reetz said.
One of the first shipments was cases of citrus fruit from Florida, Reetz said. “Today we’re the oldest co-op of our kind in our nation.”
The renovation is planned to start in October and is set to be completed by July 2015.