The Central City Co-Op has operated without a permanent home for nearly 25 years.
It appears the organization has now found one, and it’s exactly where its owners want to be.
The co-op announced May 11 on Facebook that it had purchased the property at 2515 Harvard St. in the Heights as the new home for its brick-and-mortar store. It previously was leasing space at 420 E. 20th St. and moved out in mid-April.
Central City is not yet open for everyday walk-ins at the new location, co-owner Jessica Wilt said, but it is hoping to return to that model within a month.
“Our base really wanted us to stay in the Heights,” she said.
The organic co-op has existed for nearly 25 years, serving as a place where co-op members as well as other members of the community can find farm-fresh produce and other food items. For a time, it operated out of Ecclesia Houston just north of downtown, and then Grace Lutheran Church, which later became Kindred church in the Hyde Park area. It moved to the Heights in 2020 and operated out of a space on East 20th Street until its lease ended last month.
Wilt, who co-owns the co-op with her husband, Erick, said the pair and their team looked at several different spaces for a new home.One emerged in the form of a space they had previously looked at, through what Wilt called “sheer luck.”
“We knew that space had come up before, but someone had paid cash for it and we didn’t have a chance to buy it,” she said. “As we were looking at spaces in the neighborhood, my husband saw that it came up again. We really had to move quickly.”
After finding it, Wilt said 28 members of the co-op invested more than $1 million in about two weeks in order to purchase the Harvard Street property in cash. Co-op member and commercial realtor Brett Huey of Rainhollow Properties helped navigate the purchase, according to Wilt.
“(Brett) really understood the vision of the co-op, and he really understood what it is that we needed and wanted,” Wilt said. “For us, the property is perfectly situated, and is a size that we can expand and grow. It has really great bones, and we’re just so lucky and thankful for everyone who was able to help us secure it.”
The space has everything they could ask for, according to Wilt. Currently, the co-op supports dozens of farmers and about 90 vendors.
“A lot of those vendors are coming to us because they cannot afford their own space due to the commercialization of our neighborhood,” Wilt said.
Though it is not open every day, Wilt said customers can still place orders online for pickup at the new co-op location. She said Central City Co-Op is partnering with Verdegreen Farms, 1208 Bland St., to use its certified food preparation space.
Once an online order is placed, it is prepared at Verdegreen and then taken to the co-op, where farmers and vendors can pick them up from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. every Wednesday, according to Wilt.
A grand opening date has not yet been determined, Wilt said. But in the meantime, she said the organization is still committed to supporting farmers and small purveyors in Houston.
“The thing we’ve seen with this co-op is the ability for Houston to come together,” she said. “…We’re thankful for all of the outreach and all the positive energy that’s come from all of our partners who have worked to support us.”
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