It has been 90 days since the Market Place closed its doors. The store is still dark, but Union County Chamber of Commerce Director Bob Kavanaugh said things are still “on track.”

On Feb.1, a sign on the doors of the corner grocery store on Adams Avenue read the store is in “transition.” The owner, Troy Berglund, has since filed for bankruptcy, according to Kavanaugh. Going through bankruptcy court went slower than expected and the doors will be closed for a while longer, he said.

Marco Rennie and Al Adelbserger, who were both actively working on once again filling the building with a grocery store, could not be reached for comment.

Kavanaugh continues to be hopeful that the store will open eventually.

“We just can’t be specific on a timeline,” Kavanaugh said. “They have secured partners — both for
investors and grocers, though.”

The Market Place had made headlines before the store announced its temporary closure in February. Rennie, who was the operator of the store, held a community meeting and conducted surveys of customers, asking what the town wanted from its neighborhood grocery store.

Adelsberger, the developer of the store, and Rennie, openly admitted the store did not have the right products to cater to the community from the very beginning. The store struggled to build up its customer base without the right products and was not making its revenue goal from the start.

Many of the surveyors said they expected the Market Place to have items that customers couldn’t find at Walmart or Safeway. Instead, they found the same brands for the same or higher costs.

Most of the survey responses indicated the store was too expensive.

Rennie said he wanted to do what the community was asking for and will work toward getting the right fit. Rennie said in February that they are looking to get a wholesaler who will supply them with the correct items.

“We have the right people who are willing to open the grocery store (if they have) the right products,” Kavanaugh said in a previous interview. “That corner where the grocery store is has to be successful. We need to have a grocery store in there with the products the community wants.”

The Urban Renewal Agency, which loaned Adelsberger $500,000 toward the store will talk about an amendment to the agreement in tonight’s meeting.

Strope said the loan is not in default and the loan remains in effect despite the store closing its doors temporarily.

There are guidelines the store has to meet in order for the loan to become a grant. According to the original loan agreement, the store was required to maintain 10 full-time jobs at $15 an hour and five part-time jobs over a five-year period, according to a draft outlining requirements. The store was also required to be open at least five days a week for 52 weeks a year for five years.

Per the agreement with the URA, up to $100,000 of the principal loan will be forgiven each year if the standards are met. However, if the store is less than 90 percent compliant with store hour and job creation standards, the principal for that year will not be forgiven and the interest rate will double to 10 percent. “Non-performing years can be ‘made up’ to maximum performance timeline of 10 years but total forgiveness cannot exceed $100,000 in any year,” according to the contract.

Strope said in a previous interview, once a new grocery store is established in that building, the clock will restart for the first year’s requirements.

Contact Cherise Kaechele at ckaechele@lagrandeobserver.com . Follow Cherise on Twitter @lgoKaechele.

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