Habitat plans $1 million ReStore expansion

BLOOMINGTON — Habitat for Humanity of McLean County's ReStore will be renovated and expanded in a $1 million project the nonprofit organization hopes will increase the number of Habitat homes built, while spurring renewal of the store's west Bloomington neighborhood.


Habitat announced Thursday afternoon that — beginning in November — the Christian housing ministry will renovate and expand the ReStore at 1402 W. Washington St.


The ReStore ReNewal project will expand the store from 13,500 square feet to 20,000 square feet, said Habitat Executive Director Stan Geison. Grand opening of the expanded facility is expected in late summer 2017.


"We will keep the store open during construction," Geison said. "We have a faithful following of donors and shoppers," he said. "And we want to stay committed to the west Bloomington community."


"Better facilities will allow us to increase our programming and cover 100 percent of our administrative costs," he said. The project will include demolishing two older buildings and building an addition to the remaining, main building. "Our business plan indicates that we can afford to do this, but we will be looking into grant opportunities," Geison said.


ReStore sells gently used appliances, furniture and household items. Money from ReStore sales supports the work of Habitat, in which volunteers partner with families to build affordable homes that are sold to families at cost through no-interest loans. Habitat families previously lived in sub-standard housing and couldn't qualify for other home-buying programs. But they have stable income and credit history to demonstrate the ability to pay back their Habitat mortgage and are willing to help build their home.


The renovated, expanded ReStore also should improve visibility from Washington Street; present a modern look; increase parking and streamline the donation drop-off process, Habitat said. Increased retail space will allow the ReStore to sell more merchandise, resulting in higher proceeds and more money for Habitat programs.


Habitat hopes that — within five years — ReStore proceeds will cover 100 percent of Habitat's administrative costs and increase the number of homes built. Six homes are built each year and, last year, ReStore profits covered 91.5 percent of administrative costs, Geison said.


Originally published by Paul Sweich in The Pantagraph