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Groundbreaking worth the Weight

From left, Sam Coleman, president, West End Neighborhood Association; Sarah A. Halliday, vice president M&T Bank Commerical Banking, Albany Middle Market; Carolyn McLaughlin, president, Albany Common Council; Lexa Juhre, HWFC project manager and leadership team; Lynne Lekakis, president, HWFC board of directors; Mayor Jerry Jennings; Sen. Neil Breslin; Chris Quinn, Albany County deputy executive; and Keven Catalano, loan portfolio manager, Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, at the Honest Weight Food Co-op groundbreaking.

From left, Sam Coleman, president, West End Neighborhood Association; Sarah A. Halliday, vice president M&T Bank Commerical Banking, Albany Middle Market; Carolyn McLaughlin, president, Albany Common Council; Lexa Juhre, HWFC project manager and leadership team; Lynne Lekakis, president, HWFC board of directors; Mayor Jerry Jennings; Sen. Neil Breslin; Chris Quinn, Albany County deputy executive; and Keven Catalano, loan portfolio manager, Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, at the Honest Weight Food Co-op groundbreaking.

After years of planning, construction has finally begun on a larger Honest Weight Food Co-op in the City of Albany.

The official groundbreaking ceremony was held on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at the store’s new site on Watervliet Avenue. Plans call for the new facility to be nearly double the size of the current 16,000-square-foot store on Central Avenue.

Co-op spokeswoman Lily Bartels said the expansion has been needed for a long time, as the store is “bursting at the seams.”

“Our sales volume already greatly exceeds the benchmark that industry standards set as the trigger point where expansion becomes critical,” she said. “Plus, we simply need a more spacious and easily navigable layout to be able to provide our customers the most convenient, attractive and streamlined shopping experience possible.”

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An artist's rendering on the new Honest Weight Co-Op store.

The Co-op is different from most grocery stores in that it is member owned and operated, and is self governing. The organization is guided by “social and economic ethics” and has been established in the Albany community since 1976.

The new site will provide more parking spaces for shoppers. Both the meat and prepared foods/deli departments will be expanded, and outdoor seating will be available for diners. Also, a full size teaching kitchen will be included.

“All of these ambitious goals require lots more space than we now have,” said Bartels.

After years of searching for the perfect site, one in the West End neighborhood was selected and purchased in 2007 in order to remain the same community the Co-op has operated in since 1995. But the economy turned a year later and plans had to be put on hold.

“It took a while to overcome that hurdle and get back on track, but we’ve never faltered in our determination to see this dream come to fruition,” Bartels said.

The entire project will cost about $5.4 million. The funds were obtained through private loans and an internal loan program.

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