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Friday, February 25, 2011

Will the SoWhat District ever get a grocery store?

Not any time soon, apparently:

The neighborhood's present population is estimated at 2,749. Taking into account surrounding competition, that density is only about one quarter what the neighborhood needs to get a small grocer, Hambleton said.

"If you take the standard urban competitive situation, it's going to take 10,000 people for a 20,000-square-foot store," he said. "You look at a place like that and it just seems like it would be able to support a grocery store.

"It just doesn't work like that."

Wait 'til the Burlingame Fred Meyer closes for four months this summer. That's one of the few grocery options for the SoWhat folks (and for their neighbors across the freeway in Lair Hill). Some basic aspects of life in the condo bunkers are going to get even less convenient before they get easier. You wonder whether the real estate agents ever mention this to the prospective suckers.

Comments (26)

Lakeview, population 2,685, has a full-line Safeway store.

Brookings, population 6,490, has a full-line Fred Meyer store. So does Warrenton, population 4,800 (which also has a WalMart and a Costco). So does Tillamook, population 4,765 (which also has a brand new, downtown Safeway store.)

It's not the population. It's that South Waterfront is simply too hard to access, does not attract anyone from outside of the area, lacks the proper road infrastructure to attract people from the immediate surrounding area, lacks the proper transit access to attract people from the immediate surrounding area (the Streetcar, for example, goes through a "no-man's land" until hitting the South Auditorium area which has many more transit options than just the Streetcar; John's Landing and the rest of the surrounding Corbett and Lair Hill neighborhoods have virtually zero access to SoWa, and most people I know are not going to trundle along ten blocks with several bags of groceries by foot.

That's a surprise! Stores almost always stay open during a remodel, so customers don't find a new place to shop. I've worked on Fred Meyer remodels and others in the past. They do lots of juggling of merchandise and put in extra people to help customers find something that was moved. I use this store myself sometimes when I'm in that neighborhood and I'll have to adjust.

The only option I can think of is the Safeway about a mile farther out Capital highway. In my experience it offers less than Fred's at sometimes higher prices. (I received no remuneration for saying that.)

Portland must immediately apply for Healthy Food Financing Initiative funds. (Food Desert) SoWhat is being underserved and it's for the children. Just a little leverage and "bingo," Haggen can afford the move from Beaverton.
First Lady Michelle Obama says:
"Let’s move to ensure that all families have access to healthy, affordable foods in their community. We’ve set an ambitious goal here: to eliminate food deserts in America within seven years.
To do that, we’re creating a Healthy Food Financing Initiative that’s going to invest $400 million a year—and leverage hundreds of millions more from the private sector—to bring grocery stores to underserved areas and help places like convenience stores carry healthier options.”

I live in Johns landing and usually drive to TJs and Safeways on 39th AVENUE. Thank god they upgraded the ross island..

and most people I know are not going to trundle along ten blocks with several bags of groceries by foot.

. . . or by bike!

Don -

That safeway you mention is also going to undergo a full rebuild. The current 20,000 sq ft store will go, and a 62,000 plus sq ft store will replace it. Like the Freddies, it will be closed for the rebuild. Freddies is supposed to be done in 2011 AIUI. Safeway won't start for at least a year, as they go through the permitting and design process.

Agree with your take on Safeway prices, generally, as compared to Freddies. I sort of hope that Safeway will try to compete on prices, everybody in the area would benefit if Freddies had some price competition closer than the Tigard Winco.

For those down there who actually stock their shelves and cook at "home", the oh-so-pricey Zupan's down at Macadam and Taylor's Ferry is probably the closest thing in the area. And don't forget there are a couple of restaurants to choose from too, including a chain pizza joint. Could also just ride that nifty Mr. Roger's neighborhood trolley up to the Safeway downtown on 10th.

Maybe there'll be some new URD to relocate the whole district closer to the award-winning Pearl. It may wind up being in the way of new bicycle and trolley bridges anyways.

Woo hoo.

Me thinks that if they get an immigration jail in there, they get a grocery store!

Strange logic, but entirely possible in crazy-town.

This is a pretty common misconception in planning circles. Put in a few hundred homes and think they will support their own "town center". Doesn't work like that.

What? Can't they take their fancy streetcar to Whole Paychek in the Pearl district?

Mr. Grumpy,

Yes, living here in crazy-town gives one all kinds of ideas, anything is possible.

We have a Mayor who drives sustainability into the ground yet OK about taking paradise for a parking lot for cars that are coming in from China in 2040!

We have a Water Commissioner who just won't ask for that Waiver now that 17,500 liters of testing show zero cyrpto, so voila, a billion dollars for a public health problem that does not exist.

We have Saltzman who says he is for the children, doesn't seem to think ahead to care if the children may be beholden to international water corporations, here comes the Willamette! Should make those micro-brews taste especially yummy and that might happen when those children come of age. They will never know the taste of a healthy “true brew.”

We have Fritz and Fish who apparently jump and get on board when Leonard needs their votes. Nurse Fritz needs to get on board for public health and Floundering Fish needs to get a spine.

Look, the list is long and filled with crazy making in this City That Works!

Three words: Walmart Super Center.


The impending closure of the Freddies for remodeling has been known for quite some time. This one isn't something that they can do in stages, as they did at Raleigh Hills and Beaverton - this will likely involve complete, or nearly complete, demolition. The Burlingame site just does't have a large enough footprint to get by with shuffling things around.

There's Afood Affront in Hillsdale, pretty close to the Burlingame Fred. And a Market of Choice at Terwilliger & Boone's Ferry.

I've posted this before, and as Eric H. said SoWhat "is too hard to access". In 2001 Safeway and Fred Meyer looked into building in SoWhat at the encouragement from PDC and Stakeholders, of course, with incentives. Their brains told them it doesn't work and even said "how do you get there, how are we going to educate our customers on how to get there?".

Transportation, and not just trolleys and trams, was suppose to be a major component of TIF and other dollars spent in SoWhat. Not one dime has actually been spent in projects increasing connections of this island to the rest of the city. 36 PBOT projects still sitting in the piles of "to do lists".

There's also a Zuppan's on Macadam. But no hardware or prescriptions anywhere around.

What do condo people need a hardware store for?

Rx though, is another matter. Or is there one in the OHSU center down there?

I used to have an office at Barbur and Hamilton for over 6 years; and know many people with homes and businesses in the area. Not a one has any interest in going down to SoWhat for anything. And most shop at Burlingame Fred Meyer or the Safeway on Barbur. Let these dummies that moved into an area with no nearby supermarkets stew in their juices!

Schwan's delivers to 97239 (SoWhat's zip code).

Problem solved!

"You wonder whether the real estate agents ever mention this to the prospective suckers."

Jack, of course not. However, I don't have much sympathy for people who fail to take those things into consideration all by themselves.

I know some folks who moved into SoWa in 2010. The real estate agent sold them on the great view, the athletic club a block away, the community garden at their feet, the easy access to downtown via streetcar, the secure entry with a "doorman", the promise of more glitzy development and parks where only empty lots or aging structures now stand, and most significantly - the fact that they were getting such a good deal. The previous owner of their condo lost about 25% of the original purchase price in the condo bust. Someone else's loss was their gain.

In their gleeful ebulience, they did not consider the nitty gritty tasks like shopping or even what kind of development might occur in SoWa. The smug attitude of the baby boomer folks who populate the bunkers is being shaken by reality. Perhaps they had a vision of what they wanted things to be like rather than the real life issues they now have to contend with.

The city and developers painted a pretty picture, the real estate agents repeated and embellished it, and finally, people who should have known better put their money down on empty promises. The winners have the money, but I feel no sympathy for the condo dwellers who bought a.dream - just the public who will be paying for the verticle display of hubris.

-just the public who will be paying for the verticle display of hubris.

and who have lost the majestic view of the river and mountain in the process.

That safeway you mention is also going to undergo a full rebuild. The current 20,000 sq ft store will go, and a 62,000 plus sq ft store will replace it.

The Safeway on Barbur is one of just a few remaining "Marina" style stores that Safeway pioneered back in the 1950s and 1960s.

I'm surprised that it hasn't been nominated for some type of preservation protection - I don't think there's many other stores left in the Portland metro area of this architectural design. I think there's one out on 82nd Avenue, and there's a couple in the region that are no longer owned by Safeway (one in Newberg now a Grocery Outlet, McMinnville's is now Staples and unrecognizable, another is in Aloha as Big Lots).

But Portland seems hell bent on destroying anything and everything out of the 1940s through 1970s because it's the "highway era", and damned if any of it survives for the next few years.

(Now, as a consumer/customer, I agree the store is outdated, too small, and needs to go...it does not fit Safeway's current, upscale marketing approach, it lacks an appropriate deli, meat or florist department, and can only offer a limited selection of goods.)

I remember reading vague references about a few road projects going on in the district over the next couple years. Apart from the Moody Ave. redo, I think there's something going on with the freeway access and maybe harbor drive. Anyone have details?

The winners have the money

How much?

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