$5 million-plus from Mecklenburg County, Charlotte City Council and HUD will support a new, cooperative grocery store for West Boulevard

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West Charlotte will soon be home to a for-profit, cooperative grocery store. A capital campaign to fund the $10 million cost of the co-op on West Boulevard and Clanton Road has been given a notable boost with funding commitments from key public funding sources, most significantly Mecklenburg County, the project’s longest-standing supporter and partner.

In addition to $3.25 million from Mecklenburg County, the Charlotte City Council has pledged $1.5 million and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has pledged $750,000 (with advocacy from North Carolina Congresswoman Alma Adams) to the West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition, the nonprofit organization leading development efforts.

Long identified as a “food desert,” West Boulevard is on its way to redefining the neighborhood’s proximity to fresh foods for residents. When it opens in 2025, the co-op – dubbed by community residents as Three Sisters Market – will be the first full-service grocery store on West Boulevard in more than 30 years and include community education and gathering spaces beyond the typical grocery store. It will provide what community leaders define as a catalyst for emerging economic development in the area related to food production, retail and distribution.

“This has been a long-time coming,” said Rickey Hall, who chairs the board of the West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition, which drives community-led strategies promoting economic and community development for residents and businesses along West Boulevard. “It has taken years of diligence by neighborhood residents as well as institutional support that has come alongside the community’s efforts.”

UNC Charlotte’s urbanCORE facilitated the working group of community leaders and university researchers that developed the blueprint for the community-based, community-owned cooperative. In 2021, the group published “Tackling Food Insecurity in West Charlotte,” a comprehensive report that outlines the challenges, a proposed solution and outcomes as well as projected investment requirements that have been updated since the report’s release.

The report concluded that “bringing food retail to West Boulevard will require a different model than a conventional grocery store,” and deploys a strategy that attracts residents who live nearby and beyond. Expanding the traditional notion of a supermarket, a successful co-op will offer educational programming, food preparation demonstrations, community gathering space and marketing driven by cultural affinity. Its goal will be to support efforts to mitigate widespread health challenges resulting from a decades-long dearth of accessible fresh foods while generating wealth and economic opportunity for residents.

The plan includes the development of a 12,500-square-foot grocery store on federal land currently managed by INLIVIAN, Charlotte’s housing authority. It is projected to cost approximately $10 million to build, equip and staff. When completed, it will be managed by the West Boulevard Cooperative Food Market, an independent organization whose board is made up of community members, including leaders from the West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition, area churches and representatives from UNC Charlotte, Atrium Health, YMCA of Greater Charlotte, Johnson C. Smith University, Mecklenburg County and former Charlotte bank executive Mac Everett.

“Mecklenburg County is proud to support this initiative to bring a cooperative grocery store to the West Boulevard neighborhoods,” said Mecklenburg County Manager Dena R. Diorio. “This partnership is the result of creative and innovative strategies to improve the lives of our residents. This will be a game changer in the neighborhood to address the inequity in access to fresh foods. This initiative can also serve as a catalyst in the area for employment and career development, wealth building, small business growth, and economic development.”

When established, the business will be owned by community shareholders, with an emphasis on those who live in the co-op’s vicinity. Leaders are in the process of hiring a general manager to lead the project with a $250,000 grant to the West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition from Mecklenburg County. The goal of the capital campaign to begin in the coming weeks is to raise the balance of needed funds.

Additional background:

A cooperative, community-led solution to food insecurity in West Charlotte

Frequently asked questions about the West Boulevard Food Co-op

Media Contacts:

  • Buffie Stephens | External Media Relations Director | UNC Charlotte 704-687-5830 | 980-355-3110 | buffiestephens@charlotte.edu
  • Suzette Nedrich | Public Information Officer| Mecklenburg County | 980-219-0495| suzette.nedrich@mecknc.gov
  • Sharika Comfort | Executive Director | West Boulevard Neighborhood Coalition | sharika@westblvdnc.org