Businesses in and around Vancouver’s Central Park and Maplewood neighborhoods are weighing in on the proposed development of a new grocery store at the corner of Fourth Plain and Grand boulevards.
Plans submitted to the city of Vancouver this month show that PacLand, a Bellevue-based developer, seeks to demolish the 82,500-square-foot Fred Meyer store that has sat vacant on the site for nearly five years. A phased development would then divide the existing parcel into two commercial lots; one to accommodate a new 42,000-square-foot grocery store; and the other to accommodate future construction of a 4,500-square-foot fast food restaurant with drive-through.
While the name of the new grocery store is absent from PacLand’s development application, nearby residents and businesses have speculated that it will be a “Neighborhood Market” Walmart, as the two companies have worked together on regional projects in the past. However, Rachel Wall, Walmart’s senior manager of community affairs, was unable to confirm her company’s involvement in the project.
“We’re always looking for new opportunities, but I don’t have anything to share aside from the recently announced Vancouver Plaza store,” said Wall. “If we have a project that is in the pipes that we can announce, we will, but that’s not a project that I’m aware of.”
Identity of the grocery store aside, some residents are already opposing the development plan, citing an unwanted increase in traffic. However, most business owners said the commercial activity is sorely needed in the area.
“You’ve got a bunch of commercial space that’s not being optimized along Fourth Plain, so a new grocery store should help fill some of that up and get it to more of an optimum level while increasing the rent rates for landlords,” said John Childs, local franchisee for Aaron’s Inc.
Childs also noted that the vacant Fred Meyer building has caused a bit of a graffiti problem in the area, but he expects that to be reduced once new development begins.
“We’re just excited and it’s going to help us,” he added. “Hopefully [the new store] will keep some of the traffic from going down the hill to Grand Central Fred Meyer as well.”
Located half a block from Fourth Plain and Grand is Family Pet Supplies, which celebrates its first anniversary this weekend. Store Manager Janna Tullis said she expects the community to welcome any new tenants to the neighborhood with open arms.
“Our customers come in all the time saying ‘we love having a new business here,’ so I think that would translate to a new grocery store as well,” she said. “Anything that is new and convenient for them in this particular area is always received well.”
PacLand hopes to begin the first phase of construction by the summer of 2013.