Fayetteville natural foods retailer Ozark Natural Foods (ONF) has canceled plans to relocate the co-op to a location closer to downtown.
The co-op announced earlier this year it had a deal in place to sell its 24,820-square-foot building on the north end of the Evelyn Hills Shopping Center at 1554 N. College Ave. ONF also was under contract to buy a 32,893-square-foot building at 380 N. College Ave., a vacant building that housed several grocery tenants through the years, most recently CV’s Family Foods. The business closed this past spring.
Joshua Youngblood, president of ONF’s board of directors, said in a social media video posted Friday (Sept. 7) both deals are dead and the co-op is staying put. The board voted Wednesday on whether to move forward with the purchase of the vacant grocery store, even if the contract to sell its existing building fell through.
“Unfortunately, our potential buyer is not going to be able to move forward for some unforeseen reasons,” Youngblood said. “The board decided it would place the co-op in too [much] jeopardy to own two buildings.”
The Northwest Arkansas Business Journal reported earlier this week ONF’s relocation plans had hit a snag.
ONF has been at its current location since November 2000 when it relocated from Dickson Street in Fayetteville. It occupies a portion of a building that previously housed department store Montgomery Ward.
“We are still looking to the future and we are very excited about our rebranding exercises and all the exciting changes that will happen at the co-op,” Youngblood said in the video message.
ONF bought the building from the investor group that owned Evelyn Hills in 2008 for $2.2 million. The remainder of Evelyn Hills, a 131,000-square-foot retail center originally built in 1959, sold earlier this year for $7.2 million to a limited liability company controlled by Provident Realty Advisors of Dallas.
Colliers International Arkansas, the state’s largest commercial real estate and property management firm, took over property management for the center. Alan Cole, a principal of Colliers’ Rogers office, told the Business Journal earlier this year the new owners have already spent a lot of “time, effort and money,” to upgrade the landscaping at Evelyn Hills. They are also working on new designs for façade and signage upgrades, as well as reconfiguring the parking lot to make it more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.
Sterling Hamilton, a commercial real estate broker with Sage Partners in Rogers who had been marketing the ONF building, is still the listing agent for the vacant grocery store property. It’s owned by the Hubert Charles Agee family of Springdale.
Hamilton declined further comment.