UPDATE: New Seasons Market to open first Vancouver store




New Seasons Market will open its first Vancouver store in the former Albertsons space on the corner of Southeast 164th Avenue and McGillivray Boulevard.

The 40,000-square-foot store is slated to open in October and employ about 175 workers, the Portland-based chain announced Tuesday. New Seasons’ first Portland store was opened in 1999 by friends who dreamed grocery shopping could be easy and support local farmers, according to the company’s website. It has since grown to 10 Oregon stores, which feature natural foods alongside decidedly non-organic offerings like Diet Coke. It is known for its stir-fry bars and prepared-foods deli, and also for the higher prices that are typical of organic and local foods.

“We’ve had more requests for a new store in Vancouver than in any other location,” said Lisa Sedlar, New Seasons’ president and chief executive officer.

Requests for a Vancouver New Seasons Market have also been posed to Barry Cain, president of Tualatin, Ore.-based Gramor Development, which will renovate and lease the Vancouver space to New Seasons.

Gramor and Vancouver’s Steve Oliva co-own Fisher’s Landing Marketplace, slated to undergo a $4.5 million to $5 million remodel, Cain said.

“They (New Seasons) were interested in it a while back, but the economy put things on hold,” he said.

Recently, however, New Seasons ramped up its expansion plans despite the area’s continued high unemployment.

“This is our third deal with New Seasons,” Cain said.

His company developed its first New Seasons Market in 2007 at the Happy Valley Town Center in Clackamas, Ore. The second is under construction at the Progress Ridge Town Square project in Beaverton, Ore.

“New Seasons is still building new stores because people are just gravitating to it,” Cain said.

Before the company could proceed in Vancouver, its landlords had to reach an agreement with Albertsons, which moved out of the 124,000-square-foot complex in 2008 but continued to lease the store until this month.

“Everything was contingent on Albertsons giving up their lease and that had to go all the way up the ladder,” said Oliva, a Vancouver businessman and owner of the Hi-School Pharmacy chain of about 20 stores in Oregon and Washington.

Hazel Dell site

Alberstons, formerly based in Boise, Idaho, was purchased in 2006 by Eden Prairie, Minn.-based SuperValu. The chain is now officially called New Albertsons Inc.

The company said it was not able to answer questions before The Columbian’s deadline. However, Cain said, Albertsons has started to remove the grocery store fixtures that were stored at the site.

Albertsons is also removing store fixtures, shelves and coolers from its long-closed former Hazel Dell store on the northeast corner of Hazel Dell Avenue and Northeast 99th Street. That property is also co-owned by the Oliva family and Gramor Development.

“Their lease is up at the end of June,” Oliva said.

Oliva and Cain would not comment when asked whether New Seasons had also shown interest in the Hazel Dell site.

“It’s a similar situation in that it’s an Albertsons and its closed, but there’s nothing I can talk about on that one,” Cain said. “We don’t have anything to announce on that center.”

The Fisher’s Landing Marketplace is home to a Big Lots variety store, a Blockbuster video store, Hallmark, a dental clinic, Home Street Bank, Godfather’s Pizza and Muchas Gracias restaurants, among others.

Cain expects the New Seasons Market to drive more traffic into the complex.

“People need neighborhood grocery stores because they are going more often to get what they need each night, and that includes more prepared foods,” he said.

Gramor Development is involved in several Vancouver commercial-retail developments, including the newly completed Costco-anchored Lacamas Crossing.

New Seasons CEO Sedlar said store officials were attracted to the 164th Avenue site by nearby retail developments such as Fred Meyer, Target and the Big Al’s Bowling Center, which complement the still-growing residential sector along the border between Vancouver and Camas. Home to high-tech employers, as well as Nautilus and Fisher Investments, the corridor has attracted a growing professional work force to surrounding neighborhoods.

“Fisher’s Landing specifically has a lot of retail synergy so that people don’t have to drive too far to get their shopping done,” Sedlar said.

She said New Seasons expects to spend between $4 million and $5 million on the Vancouver store build-out.

Sedlar said store wages start at $10 an hour and climb to an average of between $14 and $15 an hour. The company offers health care benefits to all staff members who work at least one day a week, and to their dependents.