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Friday, May 20, 2022

Bigger Is Better as Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity Restores, Gets Huge New Excavation at Greeley Mall

If the Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity had to choose a mantra for 2022, it should be: “With the old, with the new.”

The nonprofit’s Restore is making a big new effort, both literally and figuratively.

The organization announced that it has landed a lease to take over the old JCPenney building at 2080 Greeley Mall. The Greeley location was one of more than 154 stores, including one in Fort Collins, that were closed in the summer of 2020. Since its closure, the building has sat vacant.

“One of our former board members is a retired commercial broker, so we set him on the hunt about two years ago,” said Cheri Witt-Brown, executive director of the Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity. “We’ve been seeing that clearly since I became Habitat’s executive director in 2016.”

Habitat tried to buy the building where it is currently located at 2400 29th St., and at one point, Witt-Brown and the organization worked out a contract. But when the pandemic struck, everything stopped, and the offer was taken off the table.

GREELEY, CO – JANUARY 21: Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Cheri Witt-Brown, not pictured, and Restore Director Lew Sevestre speak with the Tribune in the former JC Penney Building, where Restore further southwest Will grow. The corner of Greeley Mall at Greeley January 21, 2022. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

“The owner of that building decided they didn’t want to sell parts of the building, they wanted to sell the whole thing,” Witt-Brown said. “We were getting so worried because we knew the building would eventually sell out, which it did.”

After looking for another location in the mall, the management company offered the organization the old JCPenney location, which Witt-Brown and Restore director Lew Sevestre jumped on.

The new space will give the store 10,000 square feet of space to display items, collect donations, and house inventory.

The department store gave up all of their merchandise shelving and racks, which would be used to help set up the new store, with unnecessary pieces sold or recycled, Sevestre said.

Customers will also have more check stands for purchasing items with updated computer registers that can log inventory and make donations immediately after items are dropped off and checked in.

Bigger Is Better as Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity Restores, Gets Huge New Excavation at Greeley Mall
EVANS, CO – SEPTEMBER 30: Evans listens to Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Cheri Witt-Brown during the dedication of Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity’s Zero Net Energy Home on September 30, 2021. The home, sponsored by Atmos Energy and the Schlesman Family Foundation, is estimated to have a total energy bill of approximately $50 per month. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

“As soon as an item is sold, it will come off our inventory,” Sevestre said.

Although the organization isn’t doing major remodeling for the space, they have removed some walls and are removing old carpet and tile to open up the area. The flooring will be replaced with polished cement, which will allow for durability and ease of care. Sevestre said they have also installed a new LED lighting system.

The organization received $19,000 from a local lighting company for LED lighting. For the flooring, a local flooring contractor contributed more than $7,000. The two helped the nonprofit complete the upgrade without dipping into their savings.

“Again, it’s the kind of generous community partners that really help us make all this possible,” Witt-Brown said.

The old hair salon will be converted into administrative offices and a play area for the children of parents receiving support services.

Moving to the mall will allow the organization to consolidate all its employees at the new location, which is the first time in 34 years that all have been brought under one roof.

Bigger Is Better as Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity Restores, Gets Huge New Excavation at Greeley Mall
GREELEY, CO – JANUARY 21: Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Cheri Witt-Brown, right, and Restore Director Lew Sevestre, left, speak with the Tribune in the former JC Penney Building, where Restore is moving forward is, January 21, 2022, at the southwest corner of Greeley Mall in Greeley. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

Leanna’s Closet, a separate nonprofit sharing a space in the restore, will also step in. The nonprofit provides professional clothing for women who are working or applying for work.

Witt-Brown said the added location and flagship location will continue to help the organization grow its revenue, which has grown significantly over the past six years. Revenue helps to cover administrative overhead costs and reinvest profits in the organization.

“We hired Lew 4 1/2 years ago, and he turned our store over,” Witt-Brown said. “We went from maybe $400,000, maybe $500,000 in sales to about $1 million in sales in a good year.

“He was second in the country for overall sales growth in 2018, which is very high as there are 1,300 affiliates across the country.”

The new venue is expected to host the soft opening by the end of February, with the grand opening set for Saturday, March 5. Until then, customers can continue to shop or leave a donation at the store’s current location.

For more information about the Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity organization or Restore, visit www.greeleyhabitat.org.

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