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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Agency weighs risk, benefits of grocery store project

Agency weighs risk, benefits of grocery store project

A message of hope was brought to the City of La Grande Monday night.

Developer Al Adelsberger said his vision to bring a grocery store to downtown La Grande is one he believes can restore hope in the area.

"The reality is we're trying to be part of the solution," Adelsberger said in a work session detailing a proposal for Market Place Family Foods.

The developer has hopes to site a local grocery store on the corner of Adams Avenue and Fourth Street, in the building formerly occupied by Blockbuster.

Few at the meeting doubted the project's potential. The big question was whether the Urban Renewal Agency should help fund the project. Adelsberger has requested Urban Renewal funds to the tune of $500,000 to bring the project to life. Urban Renewal project funds are typically capped at $75,000, well below what is requested for this market. City Manager Robert Strope said if the agency decides to approve the request, the funds would be disbursed in the form of a loan and could convert to a grant if certain criteria are met.

Adelsberger is partnered with Troy Berglund, who owns and operates Mt. Joseph Family Foods in Wallowa County. He has been in the grocery industry since 1975 and serves as president of the Joseph Chamber of Commerce.

"I'm a small-town grocer," Berglund said. "It's time to broaden our horizons and get out to La Grande."

Mt. Joseph Family Foods has been open for nearly nine years and was launched with Adelsberger's help. The team said that store raked in more than $2 million last year and would like to bring that success to La Grande.

Berglund said opening the store would bring 15 full-time jobs and nine or 10 part-time jobs with it. He said full-time employees would make $15 to $16 an hour.

If the Urban Renewal Agency, however, isn't willing to help fund the project, it likely will not happen, Adelsberger said, noting that he and Berglund are taking on much of the risk.

La Grande Mayor Daniel Pokorney said that citizens are concerned that the Market Place, another project spearheaded by Adelsberger, hasn't yet opened.

Adelsberger said that's because he wants to open the center the right way.

"We've got to make sure these businesses open properly," he said.

The upstairs part of the Market Place is slated to open this summer.

Before the project is taken to the Urban Renewal Agency for a decision, city staff will work with Adelsberger to nail down a timeline and work out other issues with the project that need to be mitigated to meet city requirements.

See full coverage in Wednesday's edition of The Observer.

 
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