Apple Street Board Initiates Dissolution Process

Apple Street Market supporters lent their time, talent, and treasure to opening a full-service grocery that would be accessible by all people in the community. Nothing great comes without risk, and yet it is heartbreaking that this vision for fresh food access has not come to fruition. We were very close. It is with a heavy heart that Apple Street Market board members voted unanimously to legally dissolve Apple Street Market. The board also voted to appoint Kristen Barker as the officer who will manage the liquidation of assets.

Why is Apple Street Market dissolving? 

In 2019, the market, along with NEST, had secured $500,000 from the City of Cincinnati and we had construction documents at City Hall ready to break ground when the final piece of our financing fell through due to changes in New Market Tax Credits. Those changes led to a cascade of events that resulted in the loss of our location. 

Volunteers spent 2020 vigorously trying to find a location that would enable a financially viable grocery store to come to life. Unfortunately, we currently do not see a path to opening Apple Street Market cooperative in Northside.  (See article 1 below for explanation). 

Although we have been operating with minimal spending, Apple Street Market does have ongoing expenses (e.g. accounting, website, Mailchimp). With no path towards acquiring property for the store, we believe we should save these resources. Apple Street Market also has debts and liabilities that must be addressed. If we dissolve now, we can return some funds to loaners.

Although community members are working on developing an alternative Buying Club (See article 2 below) to bring affordable food to our area, that initiative is a separate entity and cannot operate under Apple Street Market bylaws.

What Money is Being Returned?

  • In February of 2019, owners who provided loans placed their loans in an escrow account with the understanding that 75% would be returned if the store did not open. Owners loaned $187,000 in total. $140,250 will be returned proportionately to each lender. 
  • Prior to that, 32 people loaned the project $111,500. Apple Street is able to return 17.5% of those funds, so $18,000 will be proportionately given to those owners. 
    • One owner has asked to not receive their contribution back so it could be divided between the rest. If other loaners choose not to receive theirs back, this percentage may increase.
  • Unfortunately, the project cannot pay back the $100 membership shares purchased because those funds were used to develop the construction plans and other project expenses.
    See https://www.applestreetmarket.coop/2019/ 

    • To see how Apple Street spent its money for 7 years through December 2020, see this link.
    • This is a community-based project, and we were all in together. Throughout the project, board members loaned the project $123,000. 

What is the Dissolution Process?

  1. Approval of Dissolution by Apple Street Board (July 1, 2021)
  • Board member Kristen Barker was appointed by the Board to manage the disposition of assets
  1. Approval by Apple Street Community Owners
  • Meeting to be held on September 19, 2021 (details here).
  1. Notification of Apple Street Community Owners Unable to Attend September 2021 Meeting

  2. Notification to Government Agencies, Bank
  • Ohio Department of Taxation
  •  Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation
  • Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
  • Hamilton County Treasurer
  • Ohio Secretary of State
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Bank
  1. Publication of Notice of Dissolution in Local Newspaper

How has the Community Benefited from the Apple Street Market Process?

  • Apple Street Market’s efforts to help secure the former Save-A-Lot site for the neighborhood of Northside has helped make it possible for NEST to develop an exciting LGTBQ Senior affordable housing project – The John Arthur Flats which will provide 57 units of housing. Happily, the groundbreaking has just occurred!
  • Apple Street’s organizing inspired Gem City Market in Dayton to come to life. Over the years, Apple Street has shared our business plan, technical support from our General Manager, equipment plans, and more with Gem City. Excitingly, they just opened in May!! See the following media stories for more information:
    From WVXU: Dayton’s Coming Co-op Market Builds On A Playbook Developed In Cincinnati
    From Nonprofit Quarterly: In West Dayton, Ohio, a Food Co-op Heralds a “Black Renaissance”
  • Neighbors are organizing a Buyer’s Club (See article 2 below) to bring affordable food to the Northside area. 

Will Northside and South Cumminsville ever have an affordable grocery store?

  • The Save-a-Lot store was profitable when its corporate headquarters chose to close the store as part of a larger reduction in stores.
  • Associated Wholesale Grocers indicated that our plans for the store at 4145 Apple Street Market would have been successful. It was unfortunate timing that led NEST to develop the property without the market. 
  • Gem City Cooperative Grocery in Dayton is open and doing well, using the plans for Apple Street Market. Gem City was able to succeed in part because major institutions in Dayton supported the project financially. 
  • We hope that future community efforts focus on creating affordable food access and addressing transportation issues.

 

Article 1: The Location Search Concludes: May 2021 

When the Save-a-Lot closed in Northside, hundreds of community members worked to develop a locally-owned grocery at that site. As we worked to acquire the site, supporters fundraised, developed business plans, conducted environmental and engineering assessments, developed construction plans, and more. In addition, we worked with NEST to attain funding from the city of Cincinnati to acquire 4145 Apple Street, which was given to NEST. Unfortunately, the rest of our financing through the New Market Tax Credit fell through at the beginning of 2019 due in part to changes in tax law, and NEST chose to develop 4145 Apple Street Property as a single-use senior LGTBQ friendly affordable housing project.

In 2020 the Apple Street Location Committee did a robust search for a viable location in Northside. Members looked in detail at 8 potential additional properties, more than 20 overall All the sites were occupied. We even looked at 2 in College Hill at the request of their local community development corporation. Of all the potential sites we investigated, only two were found to be financially viable for a grocery store by our grocery experts (Associated Wholesale Grocers and Dakota Worldwide): 1) the building behind Hoffner park on Blue Rock owned by Gaslight Properties. Gaslight Properties does not have a timeline for developing the property and has no interest in a grocery store. 2) The Triangle at the corner of Blue Rock and Hamilton. PLK Communities won the bid for the Triangle Property.

Our location committee and scores of supporters encouraged PLK Communities to work with Apple Street Market to include a grocery store in their plans for market-rate housing. PLK offered the Cherry and Cooper site, however, our highly reliable market studies demonstrated that that site can’t be financially viable for a grocery store. The best spot in the neighborhood is the Triangle site at the corner of Hamilton and Blue Rock as long as there are 10,000 square feet, 30 parking spaces, and a loading dock.

Unfortunately, PLK has determined that they cannot make their housing project financially viable and are not currently moving forward with any construction. This sad development leaves Apple Street Market with no current options for a location in our area that can support a successful grocery. (Success criteria include public visibility, parking and accessibility, minimum of 3000 square feet, and space for a loading dock and delivery truck). 

Article 2: An Alternative to Apple Street Market – The Buyer’s Club

A buying club is a group of neighbors that have come together to buy food in bulk at wholesale prices. Members organize to place bulk orders with wholesale distributors to avoid the extra cost grocery stores charge to make a profit, then help divide and distribute the orders to participating individuals and families. A buying club can provide neighbors access to goods not available in their community at a low price. Buying clubs help increase food accessibility, particularly in neighborhoods without grocery stores or other reliable access to fresh produce, while also building and strengthening community relationships.

Apple Street supporters and community owners are teaming up with groups in Walnut Hills (Queen Mothers Market), Evanston (Hopes Fulfilled), Price Hill (Meisers Fresh Grocery and Deli) to launch a buyer’s club to help support food access in these neighborhoods.