Editorial: A prudent move

The Ashland Food Co-op’s move to purchase 1.8 acres of land on Clear Creek Drive should work out well for the 36-year-old Ashland institution — whether it becomes the site of a new co-op, a second co-op or, most intriguing, workforce housing.
The co-op has needed more space for some time, with its existing store on First Street frequently crowded and its parking lot inadequate at peak times. A longstanding effort to buy the Umpqua Bank property next door hasn’t made any progress.
The property on Clear Creek Drive behind Ashland Lumber might wind up being used for a housing project. If a cooperative model can be successful for groceries and organic produce, why not cooperative housing in a community that has too little of it at prices ordinary workers can afford?
Emile Amarotico, the co-op’s general manager, envisions a project where the tenants contribute equity and own the housing in common, paying rent to the cooperative every month, with profit going back to the owners at the end of the year.
Many details would have to be worked out, but the concept is an attractive one. Co-op employees have trouble finding housing in town, Amarotico notes. Some of the units could house co-op employees and some could be offered to the general community.
The property could also meet the co-op’s most immediate need: more space. Either way would build on the co-op’s legacy of being a benefit to the community as well as to its members.

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