Financial crisis for Elm City Market Co-op to be resolved

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– A financial crisis for the only downtown New Haven grocery store may be resolved this week. The board of directors of the Elm City Market Co-op and their more than 2,000 members are awaiting word on the fate of what was supposed to be the solution to what’s called the ‘Food Desert’ in downtown New Haven.

Even though it is a co-op the general public is welcome and appears to be using it.

The five year old market is located on the first floor of the 360 State Street Tower that has 500 apartments above but the customer base includes people from all the surrounding neighborhoods and people that work in the city during the day.

It employs 80 full time people that are all New Haven residents but News 8 has learned that the Co-op has been unable to pay the rent for months and the landlord moved toward foreclosure in May. That’s what started this financial crisis. The ‘National Cooperative Grocers Association’ has proposed to take the place over.

“They would come in and take over management, they would give us additional financing and they see a road forward for the co-op,” said co-op board member Attorney Diane Polan.

But the other option would see the store’s assets sold, like a bankruptcy and the more than 2,000 members would lose their $200 investment and it would just become a regular grocery store.

“I’m hoping that the option that comes through for them is that we can continue to be a co-op and that we all continue to be member-owners,” said Julie Gouge of New Haven, a co-op member.

“I love the member-owned co-op idea and it really saddens me to think that it might turn into something else,” added Rachel Heerema of New Haven, also a co-op member.

‘Webster Bank’ which stands to lose at least a portion of the $4 million loan it extended to the co-op to get it started will make the decision which way this will go. A spokesperson for the bank telling News 8 today that they will continue to work with the co-op to keep it open.

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