Landlords supported co-op from the start

I have just finished reading with interest the article published in the Mail Tribune Sept. 23. I am dismayed that the failure of the Medford Market Co-Op last year is being blamed on a sincere community-based family that just had an opportunity to help this worthwhile endeavor.

Around June of 2006, members of the co-op board of directors requested that I keep my eyes open to find a suitable location in downtown Medford. I questioned their financial resources and they informed me that the board had determined that to get the co-op off the ground and generate interest in the co-op, they needed to first secure a location that they could rally around.

They wanted room for classrooms, kitchen facilities, meeting rooms and stock area in addition to 8,000 to 10,000 square feet of store display area. The budget called for the lease to be about $10,000 per month.

The Hubbard's building seem to fit the bill, with 17,000 square feet of space, a prominent location, good access to adjacent parking, in the downtown area and a rate that worked out to less than 59 cents per foot. That low rate was below the costs for similar properties.

With great risk but with a willingness and desire to help the struggling co-op, the owners entered into an agreement that called for 3 1/2 months free use of the property, a requirement that the owner of the building build a handicap restroom, change exterior plans to accommodate the co-op's needs and allow the co-op to start remodeling even though they had not secured funding.

It was with this great faith in the co-op and the desire to help another community-based organization that the owners agreed to help, as they do each year with their many civic activities. The building owners showed further commitment to the co-op by investing their own money in shares to help the organization get off the ground.

Even in failure, the Seus families agreed to dissolve the lease so the co-op would have the ability to rebuild and move forward. They are being left with a building where the damages done by the contractor for the co-op exceed the net income from the lease, due in part to the forgiveness of rent during the time the co-op failed to make payments as agreed.

Now that is an example of willingness to support our co-op and the very worthwhile possibilities to come.

Medford is in need of a co-op, one that is as successful as the Ashland Food Co-Op. We need a local community-based organization that will help local suppliers market to our community with healthy organic foods. I think the community is ready for this and is prepared to support such efforts.

The new board of directors and members of the community are showing their willingness to put time and money into such an organization and the time is now for it to move forward. Help support our community by becoming a member and be ready to support the co-op when it opens, no matter where it is located.

Scott A. Henselman is a member of the Medford Market Co-Op and broker with Henselman Realty & Management.

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