The opening of the Elm City Market has been delayed again, leaving Yalies returning to the Elm City without a grocery option besides Stop & Shop.
Although difficulties in securing funding initially pushed back the opening of the food co-op located on the ground floor of 360 State St. from March to late summer, lease negotiations and minor construction delays have moved the opening to late October, general manager Mark Regni said in an email to the News on Sunday.
“We’re actually doing this very quickly, compared to the average time it takes to launch a co-op,” Regni said, acknowledging the delayed timeline. “It typically takes years for a co-op to go from inception to opening … so all in all we are on a record pace for a store of this size.”
Before construction began on the market in February, the project was stalled as Becker + Becker Associates, the project’s developer, worked to raise $7 million in financing. In March, New Haven-based Webster Bank committed $4 million, while a private pension fund underwrote a major portion of the funds.
Despite the fact the opening has been delayed several times, the co-op had signed up 625 members as of Aug. 20, Regni said. Each member pays $200 to share equity in the co-op, which entitles them to annual dividends and discounts at the co-op.
While Regni said it is difficult to forecast how current economic conditions will affect the business, as long as people have to eat and the Elm City Market provides the best it can for the community, it “should be fine,” he said. The store has already hired 20 workers, with 70 more expected to be added once the store obtains its permits, he added.
Students were also receptive to the economic benefits of the new co-op.
“I think it’s going to be great for the New Haven community and for students if [the co-op] can keep its promise of offering truly affordable health food,” said Jessica Sykes ’14.
The market’s opening will come at the end of Stop & Shop’s first summer of business since it opened on Whalley Avenue in April.
Both Regni and Arlene Putterman, a spokesperson for Stop & Shop’s New York Metro division, said the two stores would not be in direct competition. Instead, both highlighted their store’s respective merits.
Regni said his store will stock over 300 local and regional products.
“We consider ourselves to be quite a bit different from a conventional grocery store,” he said. “Our primary focus will be on providing affordably priced, healthy, natural and organic products, in addition to carrying conventional grocery products.”
At Stop & Shop, Martin Hatfield, a New Haven resident, said he expected the quality of produce at the Elm City Market to be better, but that this would come with a higher price tag. As a result, he said, he would stick with Stop & Shop for his grocery shopping.
With its “extensive selection of food … including a large assortment of ethnic food,” Stop & Shop “weathered its first New Haven summer and attracted many customers from the community that had been without a supermarket for over a year,” said Putterman.
Ava Kofman contributed reporting.