Apple Street Board Initiates Dissolution Process

In spite of hundreds of people pouring their time, talent, and treasure into this project, it didn’t pan out. Nothing great comes without risk, and yet it is heartbreaking this vision for fresh food access for the people and by the people has not come to be. We got close. We had construction documents at City Hall ready to break ground when our financing fell through in 2019 leading to a cascade of events that resulted in the loss of our location. 2020 was spent vigorously trying to find a location that would enable a financially viable grocery store to come to life. So many neighbors and community members took a risk to bring this extraordinary possibility of Apple Street into being is with a heavy heart that we share this news.

Although board members have been working hard to find a new location for the store, we currently do not see a path to opening Apple Street Market cooperative in Northside.  (See article 1 below for explanation). And though community members are working on developing an alternative Buying Club (See article 2 below), that initiative is a separate entity and cannot operate under Apple Street Market bylaws. 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 did the board vote to end Apple Street Market?  

1) We do not see a pathway towards securing a viable location
2) 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.

3) Apple Street Market also has debts and liabilities that must be addressed. If we dissolve now, we can:

  • Return loans that have been waiting in escrow for the project (the 75% of the loan amount placed in escrow since February 2019)
  • Return 10-15% of the amount of each loan proffered to Apple Street before Feb 2019 that has been disbursed and used, at least partially, for expenses in opening the store.  (See here for a description of how funds were used during the project).

Unfortunately, as we reiterated in the Winter of 2019 when it became clear that Apple Street Market would not be able to be part of a mixed-use development with NEST’s affordable housing project at the Save-a-Lot site, the project cannot pay back membership shares purchased because those funds were used to develop the construction plans and other project expenses.

To see how Apple Street spent its money for 7 years through December 2020, see this link.

There are numerous steps that must be taken to fully dissolve Apple Street Market cooperative (see article 3 below for an explanation of the process). One is that a majority of owners who vote must agree to dissolve the project.  We are therefore planning to hold an owner meeting in September to discuss the project, what went wrong, what positives resulted (e.g. LGBTQ friendly senior affordable housing, Gem City Market), answer questions, and hold the owner vote. 

The next Apple Street Board meeting will be on Thursday, August 5th at 6 pm on zoom. We will be planning the annual meeting and be available to answer questions as well.

Article 1: The Location Search Concludes 

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 exciting 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 grocery experts: the Triangle at the corner of Blue Rock and Hamilton (optimal site) and 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. Remarkably, the Triangle Property went into receivership along with 2 other parcels in Northside and PLK Communities won the bid, at that same time.

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. According to grocery experts, Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) and Dakota Worldwide, 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. Northside and South Cumminsville residents interested in learning more and participating, please join us at Kristen Barker’s house, 4122 Langland St (in the backyard) on Saturday, August 7 at 11 am. We hope to begin making wholesale orders for distribution in August or September.

Article 3: Steps Required to Dissolve Apple Street Market 

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

2. Approval by Apple Street Community Owners

  • Meeting to be held on September 19, 2021 (details here).

3. Notification of Apple Street Community Owners Unable to Attend September 2021 Meeting
4. 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

5. Publication of Notice of Dissolution in Local Newspaper

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
All has not been lost.

  • 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 Ground Breaking 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”