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TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Nathan Kadish, director of investment strategy at Ecotrust, and Sydney DeLuna, general manager of the Redd project, stand in the Foundry next to the old machine press that will be a centerpiece for the new space.  Two vacant, sprawling buildings in inner Southeast Portland soon will be shining examples of modern food “maker space” in Portland.


As early as next year, when the $25 million development known as the Redd on Salmon Street opens, Portland artisans will have their own village to make cheese, sausage, bread, malt — whatever their specialty — to their hearts’ delight.

“We like to think this could become kind of an oasis, sort of an ecocenter, a watering hole for the food movement where you’re making good stuff, aggregating good food, sending it around the city, having meetings, parties, lots of good music and bonfires,” Spencer Beebe, executive director of the nonprofit Ecotrust, told a crowd of supporters at the site in March. “We’re going to have a good time here.”

Ecotrust began spearheading the project two years ago, bringing other investors on board after talking to farmers, ranchers, food entrepreneurs and others about what their needs are and how they might be filled.

They asked the question: What are the functions of the food system that need to happen in the middle of the city?

And they came up with three primary functions:

  • Artisans need “last-mile” logistics — infrastructure like docks for their trucks to back up to coolers for perishables.
  • Artisans need value-added products, meaning a grass-fed beef company may make their product into pastrami.
  • And artisans need back-end business support, like space for their legal, marketing, accounting and finance operations.
  • The Redd will address all three of those needs at their 80,000-square-foot two-block campus, comprised of two buildings: the Foundry and the Marble.

    What’s planned

    The Foundry, the 1918 former ironworks building to the east, will house 16,000 square feet of food production space, including USDA-certified meat processing facilities and specially equipped facilities for value-added grain production.

    Eight smaller spaces are also under design for small-scale, on-site food production. A mezzanine will be built for business space to support the operations.

    The Redd purchased the Foundry last fall, and the Marble when it came on the market in January.

    TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Nathan Kadish and Sydney DeLuna walk between the two buildings of the Redd on Salmon Street, set to open at the corner of Southeast 7th and Salmon next year. So far, $10 million of the $25 million needed for the Redd is funded, through a combination of New Market Tax Credits, private investors, grants, and low-interest loans from individuals and foundations.

    The Marble, a former distribution hub and sales center now open for leasing, will serve as a cold storage, aggregation, packaging, and distribution center run by B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery (see sidebar).

    The Marble will be anchored by several storefronts and studio spaces, one of which, Iliamna Fish Co., already has a presence.

    Restoration of the Foundry and a fully landscaped outdoor space and parking lot is expected to be complete next fall.

    Similar to the Pine Street Market food hall under development downtown, and the James Beard Public Market project set for the west end of the Morrison Bridge, all of the cohabitation is designed to promote collaboration and cross-pollination.

    That’s what entrepreneurs identified as key to their growth, especially in Portland — where it’s all about being in the right place at the right time.

    “This is the culmination of a decade’s worth of research and experiments,” says Nathan Kadish, director of investment strategy at Ecotrust. “We’re in the business of bold experiments.”

    A food laboratory

    So what does the Redd development mean for the rest of the city and state?

    A lot, says Beebe, who sees the project as part of the solution to climate change.

    “What can we do as citizens of this place, not just to think about, but act on the challenge?” Beebe told the crowd in March.

    “Portland’s just got an amazing food thing going on. We’re surrounded by amazing farmland. What if we could build infrastructure to support a real connection between the food movement and deep ecology of the Northwest?”

    Beebe ascribes to the school of thought promoted by New York chef and author Dan Barber in his book, “Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food,” published last year.

    Barber says people should be eating to support sustainable agriculture, and calls the current farm-to-table movement too “passive,” saying it hasn’t really changed people’s behavior.

    “We need to eat the stuff the farmers need to restore the soil,” Beebe said.

    By creating a food-making space that will cross sectors, the hope is “that those people inventing all that stuff could invent it here,” Beebe said.

    In curating the tenants for the Redd, Ecotrust is looking for businesses in their growth stage, not startups.

    They’re also seeking people with a deep connection to local sourcing, and the desire to sell wholesale to institutional buyers such as local hospitals, school districts, corporations and food service industries like Bon Appetit, a partner on the project.

    “That demand is key to shifting the way the food system works,” Kadish says.

    Honoring the history of the space is a big part of the project. The Foundry used to be full of windows, with a cupola, and a 900-ton mechanical press in the center of the floor that stamped hitches for semi trailers.

    The equipment has long been dormant, but will remain as a centerpiece for the space — in part because it’d be too expensive to move it, and because project leaders see it as the perfect bridge between the industrial age and new green economy.

    “We’re going to clean this all up and rebuild it much the way it was, try to honor the great history of the building,” Beebe said.

    Anchored 12 feet into the cement floor and said to have shaken the whole neighborhood when it was operating, the metal press may have been the biggest in North America, Beebe said. “It’s a little bit antiquated. We think it’ll make a really good juice squeezer.”

    Perhaps at the grand opening, Beebe said, “we’ll ask everybody to bring one of their favorite pieces of metal, like an old iPhone. We’ll put it in this machine. They can take it home. It’ll say the Redd on Salmon Street.”

    For more: The Redd on Salmon Street

    B-Line to expand food deliveries citywide by trike

    B-Line’s electric trikes with 800-pound cargo boxes — like little U-Hauls on three wheels — are a common sight in the central city.

    The Portland sustainable delivery service, which opened here seven years ago, currently operates in a 2,500-square-foot space at 725 S.E. Alder St., but soon will move a few blocks away into the Redd on Salmon Street, doubling their space and poised for expansion.

    COURTESY OF SAM BEEBE/ECOTRUST - B-Line founder and CEO Franklin Jones stands next to one of his electric trikes. An early partner of the Redd initiative, hell now be able to expand his urban delivery business.  “We’ll be bringing on four more tricycles,” says Franklin Jones, B-Line founder and chief executive officer. “We’ll increase the footprint we can store, warehouse and fulfill more products, and thereby push more products through our trikes on the delivery side.”

    Some of the new trikes, Jones hopes, will be used at a new North Portland hub that may open next spring or early summer if all goes well.

    B-Line shuttles everything from bread, coffee and meat back and forth for clients including Portland Roasting, Grand Central Baking and New Seasons Market.

    “The product comes to us. We distribute it,” Jones says.

    B-Line shares much of Ecotrust’s vision: to help emerging entrepreneurs get to market, and to bring more value to the regional food economy.

    “The small and medium producers — the ranchers, fishermen, hot sauce makers, nutrition bar makers, snack company — how can we help them accelerate their business model in a manner that doesn’t break their bank and gets them into bigger retailers without having them do all of the steps along the supply chain themselves,” Jones says.

    For instance: A local hot sauce maker must find and hone their recipe, then find a co-packer or kitchen to produce it, store the cases of product in their garage, try to get into a store like New Seasons, manage orders of different quantities, then finally drive those orders all across town.

    That process, Jones says, is duplicated for all other artisans who don’t yet have a distributor.

    Moving into the Redd also will allow B-Line to expand its “Green Wheels” pilot with New Seasons, which since April has eliminated the need for about 250 vehicle delivery trips to New Seasons stores.

    “It’s really an urban consolidation center; a micro-distribution center,” Jones says. “Should the vision be executed correctly, I think we’ll have something very unique in the central city.”

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