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Towaoc grocery store project seeks community input

This architectural rendering depicts a new grocery store and economic development center planned for Towaoc north of the Ute Mountain Casino. (Courtesy Reinen Consulting)
Meetings will be held March 8-10; new market is planned for north of Ute Mountain Casino

Community meetings to learn about a market and grocery store planned for Towaoc on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation are scheduled for March 8-10.

  • On March 8, 5:30 p.m. at the Ute Mountain Casino there will be a design presentation and general information.
  • On March 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the Senior Center, elder input on the plan will be heard.
  • On March 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the Ute Mountain Casino, there will be breakout sessions for youths and families, discussion on culture and branding of the market, and information on workforce development.
  • On March 10 at noon, at the Towaoc Community Center, there will be a community input session about the new market.

For more information, visit umutgrocerystore.com or email the project team at info@umutgrocerystor.com

Grocery project planning

The grocery store will be built in phases north of the Ute Mountain Casino.

The first phase will entail setting up a series of 10 to 12 shipping containers into market, said Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Planner Bernadette Cuthair.

The daily market will sell vegetables, meats, bakery goods, nonperishables, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, and other products for daily living.

The second phase of the project would construct a permanent building for grocery store and an economic development center at the same location.

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Phase 1 of the shipping-container grocery market is funded and is scheduled to be implemented, Cuthair said.

In September, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe was awarded a $2.9 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to build the first phase of a new grocery store.

Construction of Phase 1 is planned for summer 2023, with completion by late fall. It will create 20 to 30 jobs, with a preference for tribal members, Cuthair said. One of the shipping containers will be dedicated to economic and entrepreneurship programs.

Phase 2 of the project will be construction of the permanent building for the grocery store and economic development center. The cost is estimated at $12 million, and $2 million has been secured, Cuthair said.

A capital campaign is underway to raise the $10 million needed for the permanent grocery building, with a goal to reach the amount by 2024.

Once the fundraising is successful, construction of the permanent grocery store and economic development center would begin in 2024, with the goal of completion and grand opening in 2025. The shipping containers from Phase 1 will be incorporated into the final project.

Reinen Consulting has been working on the project’s architectural designs.

Grocery stocks will come from established distribution networks in the region. It also will include food raised on the Ute Mountain Ute Farm and Ranch operations.