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Green Top Board President: 'This Project Is Happening'

Workbench/Green Top Grocery

Enough funds from an owner loan campaign have come in to ensure ground will be broken on Green Top Grocery's planned store on East Washington street in Bloomington this spring.

That's according to the grocery co-op's board president, Melanie Shellito. She told WGLT News the campaign remains short of the $1.5 million goal the day after the deadline, but she said more than 150 new owners have come on board in the last few days to raise the owner total to 1,150.

"None of our banks are at all concerned," she said. "They're saying, 'you made it this far, we will tap what we need to tap to make sure that, if you still come up short, that it will happen.'"

As of late Monday night, $1,250,150 had been raised. That's about 82% of the goal. Shellito said the banks have told them it's more desirable to avoid gap funding.

"The reason the banks want to see more owners is because it shows true community support for the project," she said.

Shellito said campaign organizers had hoped to tap 250 owners for loans, which are paid back at interest rates of between 2 and 5%. As of Tuesday, 244 owners had made loans averaging about $5,500 each. Shellito said that's about $500 above the national average for a food co-op owner loan.

As of a month ago, Green Top was about $600,000 shy of goal, a total that put the ground-breaking date and entire project site at 921 E. Washington in jeopardy. "The national consultants and co-op banks all told us it would get very crazy at the end, and they were right," said Shellito.

The $1.5 million in owner loans is expected to make up about half the initial construction cost, with the rest coming from grants, loans and owner equity. The City of Bloomington provided Green Top with a ten-year sales tax rebate plan to help spur development. As many as two other businesses are already planned for the complex that will be home to Green Top, near Beer Nuts, Inc.

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