For years, residents of North Plains have had to travel — about a half-hour roundtrip — to larger neighboring cities to buy groceries.
Without a local grocery store, the rapidly growing city has lacked a key part of what makes a city self-sufficient.
But that could soon change.
North Plains officials are moving forward with a project that could bring a full-service grocery store, as well as new retail, dining and community gathering areas, to the city.
On Sept. 7, members of the North Plains urban renewal agency board unanimously approved a resolution allowing city officials to begin negotiations with a developer for a grocery store-anchored project on a slightly more than 5-acre property on Northwest Glencoe Road.
With 500 new homes expected to be built in the next four years, and city officials planning to expand the city's urban growth boundary, the development would be a major step in North Plains' trajectory of growth.
According to 2020 Census data, the more than 3,400-person city is the fastest growing city in Washington County, with its population growing by 78% since 2010.
Portland-based developer Rembold submitted a proposal for the development in July after the city's urban renewal agency put out a request for proposals a month earlier. The agency purchased the property, which city officials dubbed the "Glencoe Opportunity Area," earlier this year.
Although they are directly controlled by elected leaders, urban renewal agencies act as independent government entities, accruing taxes from properties within a designated area separately from the city for projects aimed at revitalization.
In North Plains, the agency's board is made up of all seven current North Plains City Council members, including Mayor Teri Lenahan, and is directed by City Manager Andy Varner.
The urban renewal district's boundaries run from Highway 26 north along Glencoe Road, stretching a few blocks east and west, and to the west into the downtown core along Northwest Commercial Street.
The proposed development sits on a property in the center of the urban renewal district, less than half a mile away from the Highway 26 exit into town. Lined by Glencoe Road to the west, the property extends from Northwest Pacific Street to the south to Northwest Kaybern Street to the north.
Varner says the project would be the most significant development the city's urban renewal agency has undertaken since it was formed in 2006.
"It takes some work to find another community of our size that doesn't have a grocery store," Varner said.
He says the goal of the project would not only be to add a vitally necessary grocery store, but also other amenities that would make the city a destination for residents throughout the region, bringing in economic activity to the city more broadly.
"It definitely has that positive, cascading effect," Varner said. "Looking at the preliminary plans, it would be a pretty impactful development. It would definitely draw some visitors and, quite frankly, help out some of the surrounding property values."
The developer went "significantly beyond" the basic concept plan the city asked for in its request for proposals, according to a staff evaluation of the proposal.
Rembold received multiple letters of intent from companies interested in opening locations in the development, which it's calling "The Collective @ North Plains."
Officials plan to partner with Fresh Foods for a 20,000-square-foot grocery store that would be situated at the south end of the property, according to Rembold's proposal.
Fresh Foods currently has two locations on the Oregon coast in Manzanita and Cannon Beach.
The developer also plans to partner with Abbey Creek Winery for a wine collective and tasting room on the property, where Abbey Creek owner Bertony Faustin would host emerging wineries he mentors, Varner said.
Furthermore, Rembold plans to partner with Cannon Beach-based Public Coast Brewing for a beer hall.
The proposal also includes space for a food hall that could feature food carts or small restaurants.
Rembold officials also plan to develop the site with a hardware/garden store, a bike shop to promote the area as a biking destination, an indoor and outdoor dining area, and other potential restaurant or retail space.
The property would also include 235 parking spaces and pedestrian connections to surrounding neighborhoods, according to the proposal.
Kali Bader, vice president of Rembold, said she's excited and motivated to move forward with the project.
The company's local projects have included three housing developments in Beaverton.
Recognizing the city's housing growth, Rembold has long been interested in developing in North Plains and jumped at the opportunity to provide several missing services, she said.
"We like the growth out in this direction and the fact that Washington County has a lot of jobs," Bader said. "There's a lot of good reasons to live in Washington County."
No aspects of the proposal are definite yet, said both Bader and Varner said.
In the coming months, city officials and Rembold will try to determine the specific components and designs of the project.
If both parties are satisfied, the city would sell the land to Rembold to develop an agreed-upon project.
While details could change, the overall goal of adding substantial economic activity won't change, and the city won't budge on the grocery store aspect, Varner said.
The city's initial request for proposals asked developers to include plans for a pharmacy or urgent care facility as well as multifamily housing.
While Rembold's proposal doesn't include such a healthcare facility, officials said in the proposal they are still discussing the possibility with providers.
Rembold elected to leave housing out of the proposal, citing likely difficulties with code requirements, cost and the location being a busy roadway.
According to Rembold's proposed timeline, construction could begin as early as mid-2022.
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