Portland's urban renewal agency this week will consider selling land at a $2 million-plus discount to ensure a new grocery store is built at the corner of Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Alberta Street. The Portland Development Commission hasn't disclosed which grocer would move into the project, although a different development team proposed a Trader Joe's at the same location in 2010.
The mystery tenant would anchor a new development featuring two buildings, space for retail shops and about 100 surface parking stalls on nearly 2 acres. In all, the $8 million project would transform one of the last big vacant lots along a commercial corridor where developers have remained skittish nearly 50 years after divisive race riots.
Alan Silver, president of the King Neighborhood Association, said he heard rumblings about a revived project a few weeks ago and assumes it'll be a Trader Joe's. He said Monday that he's excited about the development potential but concerned about the lack of public involvement. He wants to make sure it includes locally run businesses so the project becomes more than just a car-centric grocery store for people looking to buy cheap but tasty cheese. He's also skeptical of the subsidy that taxpayers would provide. "It's stretching the definition of a food desert very thin," he said, "to say that this is worth $2 million.”
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