PHOTO: Portland NAACP held a press conference at the site under consideration for development.
Mayor Hales issued the following press release announcing Trader Joes won't come to Portland, but developer Majestic will continue to work with the city to bring some kind of large store to the site. Majestic will continue working with Colas Construction to build a final project. The mayor also said he wants to add affordable housing to the neighborhood.
PORTLAND, OR –Mayor Charlie Hales announced today that Trader Joe’s will not be returning to a project on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Northeast Portland.
An official from the grocery chain’s Los Angeles headquarter contacted the mayor on Friday with the news.
“I told them it was a shame because that section of Portland is vibrant and on the rise,” Hales said. “We’re confident that another, similar project will happen there, and I’m dedicated to making that happen.”
Hales said he will instruct the Portland Development Commission to restart the development project immediately. “We can start afresh,” he said, “but this time with better relationships, more input and a stronger result. We’re in a much better place as a result of the efforts to date.”
Developer Majestic Realty Co. had been selected to coordinate the Trader Joe’s project on the 2-acre parcel at Northeast Alberta Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Major Hales has announced that he will ask Majestic will stay on in that capacity.
“Majestic knows the site, they know the players, and they know the issues of concern. If we want to fast-track a development that meets the needs of the neighbors, the business community, and the city, then Majestic should take the lead.”
The mayor heard from hundreds of people in the community who supported the project, including both residents and business owners. However, Trader Joe’s officials said they pulled out due to some community concerns.
Looking to the future, Hales said another retailer, such as a grocery store, would be ideal for the site.
Some observers had recommended adding affordable housing to the site. The mayor sided with an analysis that said affordable housing isn’t appropriate at the specific site but is badly needed in the neighborhood. In March, the PDC recommended boosting funds for affordable housing in the King neighborhood by an additional $20 million.
In March, Hales called a meeting of almost 50 leaders, including leaders of the African American community and the business community. The consensus of that meeting was that the retail development on the site – boosted by affordable housing in the neighborhood – would be an ideal combination. After that meeting, Hales began a campaign to get Trader Joe’s to reverse its decision.
The NAACP of Portland also held a press conference after the mayor’s meeting to praise the project.
Colas Construction was on board to serve as primary contractor for the project. Company president Andrew Colas and Mayor Hales both worked with Trader Joe’s leadership to get the corporation to change its position.
“This isn’t the news we’d hoped for. But I wouldn’t advise anyone to bet against this neighborhood,” Hales said. “Every stakeholder in the community has come together with a focus on jobs, affordable housing and more development for the area. We will find the right projects for the neighborhood. And together, we will build this into the best Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in America.”