Linden Hills Co-op just shy of $1.5 million needed for move

Editor’s note: the Linden Hills Co-op reached its loan-drive goal days after this story was published in the Southwest Journal. 

As of Feb. 16, Linden Hills Co-op was “within spitting distance” of its loan-drive goal of $1.5 million to help pay for a $3.5 million move from 43rd & Upton to 44th & France, spokeswoman Jeanne Lakso said.   

The precise shortfall was $12,000, which co-op leaders expected to make up before the end of the month, when an extension on the drive ends. The Co-op started its loan drive more than two months ago with an initial deadline of Jan. 31. Bob Olson, owner of the 44th and France property, formerly the site of Almsted’s Sunnyside Market, allowed an extension when the co-op fell about $100,000 short.  

The move, announced as needed to meet the growing needs of the co-op’s increasing membership, has not been without controversy. But despite protests, a dismal economy and a drive that spanned the holidays, the co-op has had little trouble finding contributors. Since its effort began, 205 co-op members have contributed loans at an average of $7,300 each.

Longtime co-op member Dottie Dolezal was among them. She said she lives near the current location and prefers it, but thought the co-op’s longevity and ability to remain competitive were more important. She said she’s noticed crowding in the store and its parking lot, issues that could become a detriment to the store if allowed to worsen.

“I have been a member for almost 30 years and have watched the board and staff operate over these years and truly believe they are competent and have the best interests of both co-op and neighborhood at heart,” she wrote in an e-mail about her decision to contribute.

Keagan Potts, a 15-year-old resident of the Morningside neighborhood in Edina, decided to loan some of his college fund to the move. Potts said he has frequented the co-op for as long as he could remember and he made the decision to contribute with his family after attending community meetings about the situation.

Potts’ family used to live near the current co-op site but is now closer to the new location. He said he wants a co-op in the community regardless of whether he’s there to use it, but he thought the new site would help open the store to more people.

“More people can experience it and the community can grow in a better way,” he said.  

Renovation of the former Almsted’s building is expected to begin in a few weeks and the new site is scheduled to open in the fall.