Terry Emmert buys former Fred Meyer's site on Foster and 82nd; future use could include grocer or business mall

It's full circle for local heavy rigging expert Terry Emmert, who makes a living transporting ridiculously large products.

The first building he ever moved, before he started Emmert International structural relocation company in 1968, was a duplex from the Clackamas Fred Meyer site along 82nd Avenue.

Now, the closed Fred Meyer's at Southeast 82nd Avenue and Foster Road has officially been bought by Emmert. His company is renowned for moving items such as space shuttles and buildings, and last year won the SC&RA (Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association) Rigging Job of the Year 2017 for moving the old Sellwood Bridge with another rigging company Omega Morgan.TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - The sign has been removed from the closed Fred Meyer along 82nd Avenue.

"I grew up right off 60th and Powell, that (Freddy's) was in our neighborhood," Emmert told the Business Tribune. "The first building that I ever moved, even before I started the moving company ... came from the Clackamas Fred Meyer site."

He and a classmate from Central Catholic bought two duplexes and moved them to a property they had bought in Gladstone.

"We were fortunate enough to be able to move a building for Fred Meyer, we've done relocations for Fred Meyer, and we've even worked for Fred Meyer raising some of their buildings' roofs to increase the cubic square footage in their garden centers and so forth."

All in all, Emmert's relationship with Fred Meyer surpasses 50 years. In October 2017, Emmert also moved four buildings off a Fred Meyer site in Salem.

A history with Freddy's

"We felt this was one of the boardwalk type of properties on the East side of Portland, so we

were excited to be able to purchase that property," Emmert said. "We are entertaining, at this present time, various offers for a variety of different types of businesses that would like to locate on 82nd and Foster."

The six-acre site includes a gas station, surface parking and the more than 96,000 square-foot shopping building.

At the time of the closing, Fred Meyer's Director of Corporate Affairs Jeffrey Temple had said the

location was underperforming and the decision was based on long-term business forecasts.

"I personally am a huge fan of Fred Meyer — I do all my grocery shopping and have forever, from Fred Meyer," Emmert said. "I think that all of the remaining major groceries are making their presentation of products, vegetables, meats and so forth much more attractive and very well organized" to stay competitive.

He knows Freddy's, like Walmart and others, will box up groceries for pickup, but he doesn't do that or use other box services.

"I personally prefer picking out my own meat and vegetables and fruit products," Emmert said. "I'd rather take the time to shop and get what I want, and I don't mind doing that. When you shop at a center such as Fred Meyer, you can take care of all your purchases without having to go to several stores to accomplish it. A one-stop shopping center, when they have a variety of products and services, is great."TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - TriMet riders wait for the bus in front of the now-closed Fred Meyer on 82nd Ave.

The Freddy's was leasing space in its complex to a bank, a Vietnamese restaurant and a hair salon, and also has a gas station, electronics area, jewelry counter, pharmacy, deli and garden store.

"It's been in the same family for over 50 years, so I thought it was a great opportunity to have one of the landmarks of the East side in our portfolio of real estate," Emmert said. "We made them a very fast and efficient closing."

Emmert's vision for the neighborhood

"The building was absolutely fantastically maintained by the Fred Meyer and now the Kroger organization," Emmert said. "We look forward to bringing some new and exciting businesses to Foster: we have a real variety (interested), everything from a building material supply company to a home and garden center. We even had people contacting us about wanting to use the site for a school."

As of now, Emmert's leaning toward "using the existing building actually for a grocery, or a grocery mall-type application, as there are auxiliary uses already existing: a restaurant, beauty shop, jewelry shop, pharmacy, electronic shop, and naturally the Fred Meyer grocer — they had a deli, and so we're looking at multiple uses."PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: FILE PHOTO - Terry Emmert smiles in his Clackamas office.

While it's still early, things are moving fast: the day Emmert spoke to the Tribune, he was also meeting with two prospective tenants to hear two different proposals.

"It's open at the present time, but naturally I'd have a preference — if it is to go grocery and food services — to have good, healthy types of products in the store," Emmert said. "But that will honestly be up to whomever the tenant is, to select to lease the property to."

So far, about 12 business proposals have been submitted to Emmert or expressed interest in the site.

"At this time, we've had a tremendous amount of people requesting individual sites, or maybe to develop an additional restaurant or fast food site on the site since it's such a large, prime corner," Emmert said. "But we're leaning toward leasing this to basically one tenant, and letting that tenant take care of all their subleases and manage their facility so they can control the type of businesses that go in."

Emmert said he's leaning toward not developing the surface parking lot or highway frontage for additional uses and allowing one tenant to control other. Depending on which tenant he chooses, he or they will be making some tenant improvements to the property.

"It's a little premature to say exactly what will be going in there at this present time, but whichever it is, it will certainly be an asset to our Southeast community," Emmert said. "I would like to see a business that excites the community to the point they just can't wait for the grand opening so they can go shop there."

By Jules Rogers
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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The future of big-box grocery

The six-acre site includes a gas station, surface parking and the more than 96,000 square-foot shopping building.

The longstanding Fred Meyer location in Southeast Portland closed earlier this year in January, following a trend of grocers closing. Challenges to the industry include consolidation of big box grocery stores such as Albertsons and Safeway, and competition from delivery companies such as Amazon, Imperfect Produce and other Blue Apron-type subscription boxes.

Fred Meyer, originally a local company, was acquired by Kroger in 1998, creating a supermarket giant with $43 billion in annual revenue and 2,200 stores across 31 states at the time, according to the New York Times.

More recently, Safeway and Albertsons merged in January 2015, which was followed by massive closures in cities across the country. The combined company later acquired 30 Haggen grocery stores across Oregon and Washington.

Particularly in neighborhoods like Southeast Portland, closures of big grocers can create food deserts — or areas, usually impoverished, lacking healthy food providers, according to the nonprofit American Nutrition Association. Especially for populations that rely on public transportation, this leaves little options for nutrition aside from corner stores that stock candy, chips and junk food (along with cigarettes) instead of more healthy and fresh food choices like fruits and vegetables.

As for box subscription models and the future of groceries, billionaire tech entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, announced plans in March 2018 to move its Prime Pantry service away from a flat $5.99 fee to a $5 per month subscription model according to Forbes, enticing customers to place orders more frequently. Forbes said the subscription model takes aim at other retailers, and that brick-and-mortar retailers are losing out on consumers who have less reason to visit physical stores to buy products after the rollout of Amazon Fresh and Prime Pantry.

Amazon also acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in August 2017 with plans to make it cheaper, according to Business Insider.

Currently in Portland, the Eastside area still has a WalMart on 82nd and Holgate, and a recently-opened WinCo Foods near 82nd and Powell. The next-nearest Fred Meyer store is about two miles south on 82nd Avenue at Southeast Johnson Creek Boulevard.

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