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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow URA, grocery store agreement still in the works

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URA, grocery store agreement still in the works

There is still much work to be done before the La Grande Urban Renewal Agency makes a final decision on whether it will help fund a proposed grocery store downtown.

Market Place Family Foods has requested $500,000 in Urban Renewal funding to help get established at the corner of Fourth Street and Adams Avenue. The URA last month voted to allow District Manager Robert Strope to enter into negotiations with developer Al Adelsberger and grocer Troy Berglund, who are partnering in the venture.

City staff are now in the midst of nailing down an agreement that, if approved by the URA, would loan $500,000 to the parties to establish the grocery store. If the store meets certain criteria, that loan could be converted into a grant after five years.

At a Monday night work session Strope detailed possible ideas for the agreement and how to tackle the project if the grocery fails to meet criteria in a given year. Strope said being short one employee wouldn't necessarily meant it's time to call the note, but that there should be some sort of consequence — like a graduated scale of forgiveness of the principal with a maximum of $100,000 a year, with forgiveness limited if criteria are not met.

URA members seemed to generally agree with an agreement like that. Strope said he would continue working on that issue. Many of the other aspects of the agreement are resolved — like that funding is contingent upon applicant retaining ownership and operation,  money will be disbursed as progress payments based on proof of actual expenditures, the store must be open a minimum of five days a week for 52 weeks a year for five years and the applicant must obtain a Small Business Administration loan and/or cash of not less than $750,000 for the project.

The city is still waiting on elevations and a completed site plan for the store, so it is unlikely that the URA would be asked to make a decision until July.

At the end of a lengthy discussion about the project, agency member Jerry Sebestyen said his vote last month against moving forward with negotiations was strengthened by the complexities of the agreement.

For the full story, see Wednesday's edition of The Observer.

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