Willy Street Co-op West

Members of Willy Street Co-op have voted to proceed with expansion plans that include increasing the size of the Middleton store with a $2.25 million project.


Expansion plans for Willy Street Co-op are moving forward.

A fraction of the co-op's more than 34,000 members have overwhelming approved plans to expand the Middleton store and to pursue further expansion that could include a fourth store.

A proposal for a $2.25 million expansion of Willy West, 6825 University Ave., was approved on a vote of 2,140-385, while a second ballot initiative to pursue other expansion of the co-op passed, 1,950-575.

No sites or projects have been identified but it could include a fourth store or expanding the co-op's production kitchen. The work at Willy West would expand the 10,000-square-foot store into adjacent space currently occupied by the UPS store, which is moving to a different spot in Parkwood Plaza. Since opening in a former Walgreen's space, the co-op has reached capacity and has become cramped for space. The project would redesign the store, move the entrance and better configure the registers. It will also increase backroom storage, cooler and freezer walk-in space.

"The results of the vote also highlight that owners have confidence in our Co-op and support our strategic direction," Holly Fearing, the co-op board's president, wrote in the August edition of the co-op's monthly newsletter. "We are honored and humbled to be part of this great community."

The approval comes almost a year after the co-op opened its third location, in the 20,000-square-foot former Pierce's Market store in the Northside Town Center, 2817 N. Sherman Ave. The co-op, founded in 1974, completed a $4 million renovation of its Williamson Street store in 2014 and spent $3.5 million to open its Middleton store in 2010.

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Barry Adams covers regional and business news for the Wisconsin State Journal.