Chuck’s buys site for second store

Owner working to lower $850,000 traffic impact fee assessed by county

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 

The owner of organic grocer Chuck’s Produce & Street Market is moving forward with plans to build a second Clark County store while challenging the county’s assessment of nearly $850,000 in development fees.

Company founder Bart Colson recently closed a $1.2 million deal to purchase a four-acre tract in Hazel Dell at the northeast corner of Highway 99 and 117th Street, where he proposes to build a 47,370-square-foot store, according to newly recorded county records. Colson, who complained last month about the $843,000 traffic impact fee the county initially assessed on his proposal, has submitted a separate study written by a company he hired to measure the store’s potential impact on traffic.

That company’s analysis came in at roughly $424,000, about 50 percent less than the county’s total fee, based on a lower traffic projection than the county’s

County engineers haven’t decided yet whether to accept that analysis or ask for additional information, said Jeff Mize, a spokesman for the county’s public works department.

“We haven’t seen any immediate red flags and we remain optimistic about our ability to work with the applicant,” he said.

Colson did not return messages. He expects the proposed $5.5 million Chuck’s Produce & Street Market store to open in mid 2012.

The first Chuck’s opened in east Vancouver off Mill Plain Boulevard in 2010, transforming a shuttered Joe’s sporting goods store into a produce-focused grocery complete with an in-store deli, a bakery and butcher shop stocked with locally produced meats.

Colson is a partner in Vancouver-based Hawthorn Retirement Group, a family-owned business that operates a string of more than 40 senior living facilities in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. The family’s Salem, Ore.-based construction firm, Colson & Colson General Contractors, has built more than 300 retirement facilities, according to its website.

Colson also is affiliated with the family business HRC Investors Corp., which operates as Holiday Retirement and manages a string of other retirement communities, among them The Bedford off Southeast McGillivray Boulevard in Vancouver. Rents in the upscale complex start at $2,548 per month.

Colson has said his background caused him to question Clark County’s traffic impact fees, which he said were higher than in other parts of the nation.

Mize said the company’s privately commissioned impact fee study was conducted by Portland-based Charbonneau Engineering.

“The county received the fee study Tuesday afternoon. We haven’t had time to analyze it yet in detail, but we can see they used video technology to measure the traffic at three other projects,” he said.

The study examined the number of vehicle trips generated by three existing stores. They were the Mill Plain Boulevard Chuck’s, a Whole Foods Market in east Vancouver and the New Seasons Market off Southeast Division Street in Portland.

Mize said traffic impact fees are calculated based on the type of project, its location, size and the number of road trips associated with the development.

The proposed Chuck’s development is located in the county’s Highway 99 Sub-Area Planned Overlay District, where traffic impact fees are assessed at $450 per trip.

Mize said the county would like to spur redevelopment in the area and offers developer discounts on traffic fees.