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  • 23 Oct 2014

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Natural Grocers to build on PDC property on MLK

This fall, work will begin on a new grocery store to be located in Northeast Portland.

Mayor Charlie Hales and Kemper Isely, co-president of Natural Grocers, announced today that property owned by the Portland Development Commission at Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Alberta Street will be the site for a new community-centric grocery store that focuses on free nutrition education and healthy food.

Three months ago, Mayor Hales and PDC staff urged the project developer, Majestic Realty Co., to remain committed to the project and to find another anchor tenant for the 1.79-acre property, following the decision by Trader Joe’s not to locate a store on the site.

“The challenges this development has faced have been well documented,” Mayor Hales said. “But thanks to the determination of the public and private partners involved, we're now able to present a development that will benefit the residents of Northeast Portland, support neighboring businesses, introduce Portlanders to a high quality, affordable grocer and revitalize a parcel of land that has sat dormant for 15 years.”

In March, the mayor committed an additional $20 million in urban renewal funds to affordable housing in North and Northeast Portland to complement commercial development efforts on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The Portland Housing Bureau, led by Commissioner Dan Saltzman, is conducting a community involvement process to develop a North/Northeast Neighborhood Housing Strategy to help direct that investment.

Natural Grocers is a Colorado-based chain with stores in 14 states. The company currently has seven locations in Oregon, including four in the Portland area, as well as a new store set to open in Eugene on Sept. 23.

“We have felt instantly at home in Oregon and the Portland area and are very excited to partner on this new development and start building a lasting and beneficial relationship with the community on Portland’s Northeast side,” Isely said. “The values Portlanders embrace around fresh, local food; resource conservation; and community involvement are perfectly aligned with the business model we've had in place since my parents founded the company nearly 60 years ago.”

Preliminary design work will start in early September. In addition to Natural Grocers, the development, when complete, will include commercial and retail space to house between four and 10 businesses. A community benefits agreement and elements of the project design will be developed by a project working group. The group will include representatives from nearby neighborhood, business and community associations and will be formed in the next few weeks. Their work will inform the overall project design and development.

Colas Construction of Portland was selected in January as project general contractor.