ReStore expansion to mean more Habitat homes

BLOOMINGTON — As Jim Walters looked over the outside of Habitat for Humanity of McLean County ReStore's 12,000-square-foot addition on Thursday, he saw more than an opportunity for increased sales. "This is not just a refresh for us but a refresh for the entire west side," Walters, habitat's executive director, said outside the ReStore, 1402 W. Washington St., Bloomington.


Habitat is wrapping up construction of a 12,000-square-foot building to the west of its existing main ReStore building, said ReStore General Manager Tyler Wiggs. Renovation of the existing building will happen next. While the expansion and renovation project costs $1 million, Habitat views the project as "an investment that allows us to grow," said Development Director Noel Lucero.


Even though the ReStore has remained open during construction and even as renovation work will continue during summer, Habitat will celebrate the ReStore expansion with a grand reopening celebration and open house from 4 to 7 p.m. June 2, said Ashlee Sang, Habitat communications and procurement coordinator.


ReStore sells gently used, donated appliances, furniture and household items. Money from ReStore sales supports Habitat, in which volunteers partner with families to build affordable homes that are sold to families at cost through no-interest loans. Habitat families come from substandard housing and can't qualify for other home-buying programs but have stable income and credit history.


The addition will give Habitat 20,300 square feet for ReStore operations compared with 13,500 square feet previously.

In addition to more space for shopping, the expansion and renovation project includes a paved parking lot that is twice the size of the previous lot; a new, covered drive-through donation drop-off dock at the front of the building; an area inside for shoppers to take a break; and a larger room to hold sold items and a dock for shoppers to drive up and pick up purchases. "This will be a lot more efficient and accessible," said Bill McConnell, a long-time Habitat volunteer who was executive director from 2007 to 2010.


"It'll be a lot easier for customers to find stuff," said ReStore volunteer Dale Coulter. "Right now, we're kind of crowded."


Habitat is anticipating that the expanded and renovated ReStore will result in increased sales, which will allow store proceeds to cover 100 percent of Habitat's administrative costs, with money left over, within five years, Lucero said. That will allow Habitat, which builds six homes a year and does exterior modifications to two or three others, to build 10 homes and modify 20 others each year, Walters said. "This building (expansion) is a reflection of the community's generosity because the small profit we make here translates into building homes," Walters said.


Originally published by Paul Swiech on 5/18/18 in The Pantagraph.

Photos by David Proeber