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New Seasons responds to neighborhood concerns; announces falling of 2 Trees

Members of various neighborhood groups in SE Portland met a few weeks ago to discuss the implications of a New Seasons store at 20th and Division. Here is the email correspondence which preceded the meeting, as well as the meeting notes. I've added some formatting to make it easier to skim.

This is not from tonight's meeting.

I'm upset to hear that 2 maple trees on division are going to be killed.

Letter from New Seasons Working Group (NSWG)

Dear Brian,

Recently, members of HAND, the Richmond Neighborhood Association, DCBA, HBBA, DivisionVision, Southeast Uplift, and the Seven Corners Localization Initiative came together to discuss the Comp Plan and zoning changes you are requesting as part of building your new store on Division Street. Your new store will bring change to the neighborhood, and we agreed that much of that will be good. But we also had some questions and concerns about your plans, and we thought that it might be better to discuss these with you together, rather than asking you to have a series of smaller conversations about individual concerns.

Below is an enumeration of the issues we discussed:

Positives

Locally Owned Business We are excited by the prospect of another locally owned business coming to the neighborhood, especially one as strong as yours. The community is optimistic that you will serve as an anchor for the western end of Division Street, and we are already seeing improvements to other buildings such as the Ladd Meat facility.

Good Neighbors We have a strong sense that you want to be good neighbors, and your past actions have demonstrated your willingness to work with the neighborhood to resolve potential problems. We have spoken to residents in other neighborhoods where you have stores, and they speak highly of your interest in connecting with the neighborhood and your willingness to listen to the concerns of neighbors.

Local Access to Groceries While many neighbors enjoy shopping at People's, there are also many residents who are excited about the prospect of having a larger grocery store within walking or biking distance of their homes, especially one that provides a range of locally produced and organic products. There is a real sense of excitement about the opening of your new store.

Jobs & Economy Your store will create many new jobs, and residents are excited about the prospect of an increased local job base. These new jobs will, we hope, be filled largely by area residents, which will in turn serve to strengthen other local businesses and our local economic base.

Concerns and Questions

Transportation & Traffic There were concerns about the geometry of the intersection at 20th/21st/Division, and questions about how traffic entering and leaving the store would interact with the intersection. As you are planning how vehicles will enter and exit your store, we hope to be able to work with you to resolve any issues.

There are also concerns about an increase in truck and car traffic on residential streets such as 20th, 21st, Ladd Ave, et al. It would be helpful to get some information about the number of new trips you expect your store might generate, as well as to have a discussion about how to manage delivery truck routes, discourage customers from cutting through the neighborhood, etc.

Traffic Safety The neighborhood has longstanding concerns about traffic safety on residential streets. Many drivers have a tendency to drive at illegal and unsafe speeds, which is particularly concerning in a neighborhood with a rapidly growing number of young children. There have been ongoing discussions with the city about implementing traffic calming along 21st, neighbors have been looking for ways to reduce traffic speeds along Ladd Ave, and we are also looking for ideas about how to increase safety when crossing Division. Since all of these streets are likely to be impacted by an increase in traffic to your store, we would welcome your participation in finding solutions to these problems.

Also, in light of the recent rash fatal and near-fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents, residents are increasingly concerned about traffic safety for cyclists and pedestrians both in and around the intersection of 20th/21st/Division, and along primary access routes through the neighborhood. We want to work with you to try to find some ideas on how to address the intersection in such a way to avoid incidents such as the one that resulted in a pedestrian death in front of Natures a few years ago.

Green Building & Streetscape We appreciate your commitment to green building practices, and your desire to make your store as attractive as possible. We would like to encourage you to plant large caliper street trees along both 20th and Division. DCBA has in the past expressed a willingness to sponsor some street trees, and there may be other organizations willing to do so as well.

We hope to see a net decrease in permeable surface, with as much greenery as possible in the parking lot and elsewhere. Most residents would appreciate anything you can do to break up the current parking area and make it appear less visually dominating.

We would also like to see the store more oriented towards Division Street than it currently is, possibly with a usable entrance facing the street rather than one solely off the parking lot.

Size & Scale of the Store Your proposed store will be, by far, the largest on Division. We were wondering if the store really needs to be so big, both in terms of retail floor space as well as overall building size. Could a smaller store work? Overall, the neighborhood is of relatively modest scale. Some residents are concerned about how such a large store would fit into the fabric of the neighborhood, and whether it would encourage other, larger-scale development to occur.

Graziano Duplex We have been working on finding a destination lot for the Graziano Duplex. While there are still some open possibilities, but our best early options did not work out.

If a destination lot for moving the duplex is not forthcoming, would you consider either relocating the duplex to the south end of the parking area, or perhaps leaving it in place to use for office or caf? space, if not residential? If some of your office space were located in the duplex, it might be possible to reduce the footprint of the main store building, while adding some visual and historic interest to the development as a whole.

We look forward to meeting with you to discuss these concerns.

Meeting Notes

General: The building footprint will be about 25,000 sqft. Offices, storage areas, and other non-retail functions will be housed on a partial second floor, for a total store area of 37,000 sqft. This is slightly larger than the NS in Concordia, but due to the second floor, the building footprint will be smaller. The size and scale of the "shopping experience" will be comparable to the Concordia store. For comparison, Safeway on Hawthorne is approx. 33,750 sqft, and Natures is about 18,700 sqft, though the store occupies a full two stories so the actual area is twice that.

Transportation & Traffic: NS will narrow division to two lanes in front of the store, removing the turning lane that is there presently. This should make it easier to cross Division and make it easier to turn left onto Division westbound when leaving 20th or the NS parking lot.

Parking lot will have an entrance/exit on both Division and 20th, pending approval from the city.

Trucks will enter the NS from Division, and then exit on 20th, pending approval from the city. NS will ask truck drivers to return to Division and not to cut through neighborhood streets such as 20th and 21st.

There will be approx. 70 parking spaces, as compared to 38 at the Sellwood store and 108 at Concordia, which shares its lot with Walgreens

Traffic consultants estimate that the store will generate an additional 18 trips during AM peak hour, an additional 69 trips during the PM peak hour, and 660 all day. Note that a car coming and going counts as two trips, and these levels are additional compared to trips attracted by the Red Apple.

Traffic Safety: NS will not take a position on any traffic calming issues.

Green Building & Streetscape: NS will be building an on-site storm water treatment "water feature" that will treat some of the runoff from the store building.

There will be a store entrance off the parking lot, but there will be an identically sized entrance off Division. NS will not lock the Division entrance the way entrances to Natures on Burnside or Trader Joe's on Sandy are locked, though the entrance may be closed at night.

Store will feature skylights to allow daylight to help light the store.

NS will remove existing maples on Division, and will add two new ones for a total of 3 trees along Division. There will be 8 street trees along 20th (6 existing plus 2 more). Also, there will be 11 trees in the parking lot along 20th.

NS will demolish part of the existing structure, and will reuse some of the tiltwall slabs. Some concrete will be crushed and used on site. High efficiency refrigeration equipment will be used, and it will all be refurbished rather than new. FSC lumber will be used, and there may be some landscaping on the roof. The structure itself will be built to support possible future addition of upper floors. Brian Rohter clarifies: "With the current plan we will have already hit our allowed height limit. We are putting in additional structural components to support a second floor that covers the entire first floor if the need in the future arises."

8-10% net decrease in impervious surface.

NS is investigating the possibility of a rooftop deck with a garden (but there are issues with cost)

There will be seating outside of store along Division, and wrapping around to front of store.

Size and Scale: The NS on Division will be a better store because it will be bigger, and will allow customers to get everything with one stop. Retail space will occupy entire footprint. There will be an organic bakery on site.

Graziano Duplex: Cannot be incorporated into main store structure (fire, floor levels, handicapped accessibility to upper floors). Must be gone by Nov 1.

Cost to move still unknown (depends on destination), will cost $17,700 to deconstruct. NS would contribute this much to moving the house if a destination can be found.

Tenants are no longer living in the duplex.

If it isn't on paper.... 14.Aug.2003 11:13

Theresa Mitchell

The promise of replacement trees from a capitalist institution is not to be
trusted. I have heard such promises before, and they have been empty.
Any thing, any aspect of the store that is promised to the community, even
if the offer is made in good faith, will be constantly subjected to negative
scrutiny by the capitalists' cost accountants and executives, and subject to
downward revision for the sake of short-term profit.

The owners of the stores are aware that they cannot be held to such promises.
The only thing that would be likely to actually produce the trees (or any other
expense) from the company is a legal, witnessed, signed contract between
the store owners and, say, a neighborhood association. Our outrage at failed
promises will produce nothing.