Friday, September 24, 2021
Sept. 24, 2021

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Downtown Vancouver residents ready to welcome New Seasons Market

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
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Downtown Vancouver residents are mostly jubilant about Tuesday’s announcement that a new grocery store is coming to the neighborhood, fulfilling a civic wish of many years.

The New Seasons Market will anchor a new development on a long-empty block at Main and West 15th streets, across from the Clark County Historical Museum. It will be the only full-service grocery store in downtown Vancouver when it opens in 2023. As soon as New Seasons’ announcement reached Vancouver residents on social media, it evoked a strong positive response, although some commenters criticized the full-service store’s prices.

“About time a grocery store was downtown!” wrote Vinh Tran on a Tuesday Columbian Facebook post about the new store.

On Reddit, user 16semesters wrote, “Yes, New Seasons is a pricier option, but having any store that sells things like fresh produce and meat is an excellent option for downtown Vancouver. I’m sure some car-less people living downtown will be OK with paying a few bucks more to not have to take public transit to Grand Central (Fred Meyer) or up to the Safeway on 37th. Vancouver is creating a walkable and bike friendly downtown which benefits everyone and the environment. Really feels like the city is working for its citizens with how they have handled downtown development.”

Attracting a grocer

For years, the city of Vancouver has tried to attract a grocer to downtown, but prospects consistently said that the population density was too thin.

The desire for a grocery store dates to at least the 2007 Vancouver City Center Vision Plan. The plan says the city should “encourage key support services, such as a full-service grocery store,” according to Chad Eiken, Vancouver’s director of community and economic development.

In 2017, the Vancouver City Council attempted to make a deal that would have developed Block 10, near Esther Short Park, into a grocery store and apartments.

The deal fell apart in 2019 after no grocers could be signed; Block 10 is now in development as a six-story, mixed-use office/residential building from Vancouver-based Holland Partner Group and Arlington, Va.-based EJF Capital.

Eiken wrote in an email to The Columbian that in the last couple of years, an increasing downtown Vancouver population burnished the appeal to a grocer.

Since 2007, 949 new residential units have been constructed and occupied downtown. Currently, there are 2,397 units in downtown that are either under construction or in the permitting process, “which will dramatically increase the residential density – and consequently customer base – in the next few years,” Eiken wrote in the email.

“New Seasons Market’s announcement that they will open a full-service grocery store in 2023 represents another significant milestone in the ongoing revitalization of Vancouver’s downtown, and it signals a growing confidence in where the downtown is heading,” wrote Eiken.

Vancouver-based Cascadia Development Partners is the project developer. The company did not provide any further information about the project.

The empty block, which sits on a high-traffic corner near the Mill Plain entrance to downtown, is owned by JTH Investments of Woodland and Jay Houser. Clark County property records show that JTH Investments purchased the block in December 2017 for $2.3 million.