The City and Port of Ridgefield together announced that a new retail development center that includes a grocery store will move forward on a portion of the port’s Discovery Ridge property at the southeast corner of the roundabout at 45th and Pioneer streets.
At its regularly-scheduled meeting on February 28, the Port of Ridgefield commission voted unanimously to approve a Purchase and Sale Agreement between the port and holding company Discovery Ridge LLC, for around nine acres of the 30-acre site, paving the way for the development of a 53,000 square foot, full-service, regional grocery store with a fueling station. Discovery Ridge LLC will contract the project to FDM Development, owned by Ridgefield-based developer Dean Maldonado.
Prior to the port’s approval of the property sale, the port completed required environmental and other due diligence to satisfaction.
The grocer, Rosauers Supermarkets, (pronounced “Rose are zz) is
a wholly-owned subsidiary of URM Stores, headquartered in Spokane, Wash. There are 21 Rosauers stores in the region. The Ridgefield location will be the company’s first store in western Washington. Rosauers had previously signed a lease agreement with Maldonado, contingent on the holding company’s purchase of the property from the port.
Short and long-term goals for the site
Maldonado ‘s project goals for the site beyond this initial development include additional phases of a larger retail project, with the longer term goal of acquiring and developing all but seven acres of the port’s 30-acre parcel in subsequent phases, pending port approval. The port will retain the seven acres for its own development purposes. One acre of the port’s seven retained acres will be leased to Rosauers for its fuel station.
Citizen demand spurred city to recruitment action
Steve Stuart, City Manager for Ridgefield, acknowledged that for about two years, due to significant citizen demand, the city has been working with a national retail recruiting firm to actively search for services, including a grocery store that’s right for Ridgefield.
“We know there’s more than enough demand for a grocer in Ridgefield, but instead of waiting for whatever may come, our City Council pushed us to actively pursue the kind of quality grocer our residents want and deserve,” Stuart said. “We’re really excited to be bringing the first west side Rosauers to Ridgefield, because they’re a strong regional grocer with quality products and service that are a great fit here.”
Stuart went on to add that Rosauers possesses attributes important in building Ridgefield’s future.
“Rosauers is a regional company with a Northwest flavor and a history of good corporate citizenship. We’re pleased to welcome a company to Ridgefield that appreciates and invests in the communities in which it serves.”
What can shoppers expect?
Jeff Philipps is president and CEO of Rosauers. He expressed excitement at Rosauers and its staff becoming active in the Ridgefield community.
“We encourage our employees to become personally involved in our corporate efforts to give back, and improve the quality of life within our communities.”
When asked about what Ridgefield shoppers can expect, Philipps said he believes area residents will enjoy having a local grocery store that offers a full complement of products and services.
“In addition to national and store brand groceries, you’ll find a pharmacy with a drive-thru option, scratch bakery, full service meat counter, and a fresh deli/bistro with natural and organic salads, meats and cheeses, as well as prepared home-meal offerings and brick oven pizza.” He added that the stores also carry a full selection of traditional and organic produce, and have a separate department called “Huckleberry’s” focused solely on natural and organic refrigerated, frozen and packaged goods.
“We’re also big on service, and creating an outstanding customer and grocery shopping experience that will include on-line shopping and curbside grocery pickup,” Philipps said.
The Port of Ridgefield and the city will coordinate development of the grocery store site and subsequent phases for maximum citizen and community benefit. Ample opportunity for citizen input on the project will be available.
News of Maldonado’s interest in the port’s property was raised last year at the Port of Ridgefield’s October 11 port commission meeting. Then, Port of Ridgefield CEO Brent Grening informed the port commissioners and the public in attendance that he was moving from earlier informal discussions to formal negotiations with FDM Development for a retail-centered development project at the port’s Discovery Ridge property. At the time of the port meeting, a lease with Rosauers as a grocery store tenant had not been finalized by Maldonado.
Port moves to support city, community needs
Retail development hasn’t been the port’s longtime vision for the site. The transformative nature of this project, however, along with support of the city and citizen and business input led the port to take the step to sell its well-located parcel for this project.
“We asked ourselves that if, by facilitating this project via a property sale, could we improve the port’s ability to attract technology businesses and other kinds of companies that pay high-wage jobs – and decided in this case – yes, we could,” said Port of Ridgefield Commissioner Scott Hughes.
Port and City of Ridgefield officials believe the addition of services to Ridgefield will work to attract businesses and the employee talent they need.
“Employers have told us they lose productivity because their employees have to leave the area for important services, taking more time away from their jobs than if services were close by,” said Ron Onslow, Ridgefield’s mayor.
Onslow also cited employee surveys conducted by area businesses reveal that employee satisfaction is lower as a result of the long distance to things they need, including groceries, dry cleaning and pharmacy supplies.
Demand for retail services was also clearly identified in the City of Ridgefield’s 2015 subarea planning work. The outcome of this effort resulted in zoning at 45th and Pioneer that incorporates a mix of uses, including community retail, campus/office, multi-family housing, flexible and employment zoning. The vision for this subarea as identified by community and business input emphasized a grocery-anchored retail center at one corner of the three currently undeveloped roundabout quadrants.
“Our citizens and business owners want more services, including a grocery store. Dean’s vision and the quality of his past work lined up with community needs. We believe this will be a positive use of the port’s property at this strategic site,” said Port of Ridgefield CEO Brent Grening.
Quality of project assured through due diligence, developer history and performance requirements
While the port didn’t’ solicit Maldonado’s interest in the property, port officials are pleased with his local projects, including Tri-Mountain Plaza and Battleground City Hall.
Additionally, Grening said port and city officials toured various retail development sites together as part of the port’s ongoing placemaking process for Discovery Ridge. The site visits included a hospital and hotel -anchored commercial/retail center in Kennewick, Washington developed by Maldonado.
“Dean’s Kennewick project sets a nice tone,” said Grening. “He does quality work, and he believes in Ridgefield. He’s been looking for a local project since moving back to his hometown, and was able to bring us a deal for consideration.”
Maldonado has been looking to reengage in Ridgefield for a few years, and has long had an interest in the Discovery Ridge site.
“I’ve looked at other properties, but always thought that corner would be perfect for a grocery-anchored retail development. I’m thrilled the deal came together,” he said. “I look forward to bringing Rosauers and other services to the people of Ridgefield.”
With the Purchase and Sale Agreement inked, the port will no longer own the nine acre parcel. The port, City of Ridgefield and FDM, however, will all be parties in a City of Ridgefield issued Development Agreement which will include specific performance requirements, ensuring the community’s interest in the nine acres and the remaining property will be protected. Additionally, the use of covenants, codes and restrictions commonly used in a new sub-division, will allow the port to participate in the management of the design, use, landscaping and other criteria for the entire site.
“With this project, the port has the means of setting a standard for high quality, and establishes the form, fit and function for one of Ridgefield’s three subareas, Grening said. “And for the good of Ridgefield,” we will not trade on quality.”