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Fred Meyer explains its remodeling decision to Greenwood-Phinney Chamber members

Representatives from Fred Meyer met with Greenwood-Phinney Chamber of Commerce members today to explain their decision to remodel, not redevelop, the current Fred Meyer store on NW 85th Street.

Fred Meyer Director of Real Estate Tom Gibbons and Public Affairs Director Melinda Merrill talk with Greenwood-Phinney Chamber of Commerce members.
“It was so far over budget,” Fred Meyer Public Affairs Director Melinda Merrill explained of the proposed redevelopment, which would have included a large one-story Fred Meyer partially underground, housing units, public open space and other retail space.
That plan had been in the works for years and been through a number of community meetings, which helped change it from a typical big box store to a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use urban village site.
But, because of the logistics of building on top of the Greenwood Bog, as well as other economic factors, Fred Meyer decided last month that the project was unfeasible, “Given the state of the economy and the fact that you could build two Fred Meyers for the cost of this one store,” Fred Meyer Director of Real Estate Tom Gibbons said. “I really don’t think this interim fix is the best thing for Fred Meyer or the community. But it really came down to the economy.”

Fred Meyer now plans to do a down-to-the-studs remodel of its existing store, and will make the entire upper floor groceries (including a lot of organics), while the lower floor would be apparel. Fred Meyer also will take over the nearby Greenwood Market when its lease expires in October 2011, and will turn that building into a home and garden center.
Greenwood Shopping Center Inc. owns the land under both Fred Meyer and Greenwood Market, and decided to give Fred Meyer the lease for the Greenwood Market site when its lease expires.

Pacific Lock and Key currently sits in a small building in the parking lot between the two stores, and leases the space from Fred Meyer. Gibbons said he doesn’t yet know if Pacific Lock and Key will stay or go.

Gibbons hopes remodeling of the current Fred Meyer building would start in January or February 2011, with an opening date in October or November 2011.
“Ideally, we’d like to have the new Fred Meyer grocery store ready to open the day Greenwood Market closes,” Gibbons said, but he admits that timeline might be challenging.
Once Greenwood Market closes, Fred Meyer will remodel that building into its home and garden center, and will construct an outdoor walkway between the two buildings.
The newly remodeled Fred Meyer will look completely different from what the store looks like now.
“It will be a lovely store,” Merrill said. “It will not be what you have in the suburbs. It will not be a flat, empty parking lot. It will be a lovely store.”
Merrill passed out pictures of the company’s recently completed Hawthorne store in Portland as an example of what the new store would look like: large glass windows for natural light, wide open aisles, better lighting, a more inviting entrance, landscaped parking lots, and unique features like a sushi train.
Gibbons said Fred Meyer remodels all its stores on an eight- to 10-year cycle, and will revisit the redevelopment idea again within the next 10 years.
When asked before the meeting how much money Fred Meyer had spent over the years on the redevelopment plan, Gibbons said, “We probably don’t want to release that number.”
While their Hawthorne store has LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification, Gibbons said the Greenwood store likely would not be certified, but would have all the right elements.
“We paid a lot of money that could have been used on that project (Hawthorne) that just went for that name,” Gibbons said. Merrill added, “We can still do that without getting the plaque on the wall.”
Patty Leach from the Volunteers of America Community Resource Center, which houses the Greenwood Food Bank, said the food bank currently receives about 3,000 pounds of perishable food per week from Greenwood Market. Merrill said Fred Meyer has a food bank program in place for all its stores and will continue to provide food to the Greenwood Food Bank.