Shovels are in the ground and Calgary Co-op has targeted next summer for the opening its new grocery store in Cochrane.

It's official sod-turning ceremony was held today (Apr. 18) at its six-acre site in the Greystone community, located in close proximity to the SLS Centre.

artist renderingArtist rendering of the development.

On completion, it will feature a 41,000 sq. ft. food store plus a Wine Spirits Beer store, cannabis location, gas station, car wash, and convenience store. There's also another 310,000 sq. ft. of commercial space for other businesses.

Its construction will employ 700 people and upon completion they will have a staff of 150 people, not including those hired by other leaseholders.

 Calgary Co-op CEO Ken KeelorCalgary Co-op CEO Ken Keelor

Calgary Co-op CEO Ken Keelor, who has been a grocer for over 30 years, says Cochrane has been on their radar for some time, and they already had a presence with a couple of liquor stores.

"What we have now is the perfect location right next to a community hub, very visible location, very convenient for customers and members. It just took a while to find the right location, and now we can bring all our services."

He believes what sets them apart in the highly competitive grocery world is their inspired team members.

"Calgary Co-op team members really want to be here. They really want to serve the customer and they really care about each other and their customers. That makes us different, and leads to exceptional customer experiences, products and services,"

He takes pride in the freshness of their products and exclusively lines, such as the Cal & Gary’s, Founders & Farmers and Cal & Gary’s Organic brands.

"Nobody is as good as Calgary Co-op in delivering freshness. Our meat is the best in town. Our produce is fresh. My wife always tells me, I stick it in the fridge and it'll last there longer than any other place."

As a Cochrane resident, Damon Tanzola, senior vice-president of Real Estate and Development for Calgary Co-op, says he's been looking forward to speaking openly about the project.

Damon TanzolaCochrane resident Damon Tanzola is senior vice-president of Real Estate and Development for Calgary Co-op.

"We've been working on this project for over three years and so, yes, as a community member and as somebody that's involved in a lot of different aspects with my kids' involvements in in sports and in the community, it has been a bit of a challenge to keeping it under wraps to this point, but we're happy now that we can be local about it and share with the community what we're doing."

Tanzola considers the location in Greystone and next to the SLS Centre to be what is called an 'A' site in the real estate world. 

"Another cool aspect of it is you can see this site from almost every top peak in Cochrane. You can see it from Gleneagles. You can see it from Riviera and Riversong. You can see it even when you're up at Sunset. I consider it to be the hub of where retail is in Cochrane."

They are currently working with potential tenants for their other retail space.

"We haven't finalized our deals yet, so we don't want to release any information around the tenants specifically, but I can tell you that we're looking at quick service restaurant, we're looking at banks, we're looking at medical and dental services to provide to the community, because there's obviously an opportunity for that, and we're looking at some sit-down restaurants as well."

Jeff GenungMayor Jeff Genung says the development with add to the economic vitality of Cochrane.

Mayor Jeff Genung thanked Calgary Co-op for choosing to invest in Cochrane. Genung says he has been receiving positive feedback from the community since it was officially announced.

"It means a lot for a brand such as yours to want to invest in a community such as ours. It gives us the feeling we're on the right track in how we're developing, and how we are growing when an entity such as yours wants to be here as well."

Calgary Co-op has other locations in Calgary, Airdrie, High River, Okotoks, and Strathmore. It has over 400,000 members, 3,850 employees, assets of $700 million and annual sales of $1.3 billion.

sod turning