Steve Clements

My Voice

About the author

Steve Clements is the mayor of
La Grande and a member of the Urban Renewal Agency.

On behalf of the City of La Grande’s Urban Renewal Agency, I am taking this opportunity to clarify information regarding the status of The Market Place Family Foods. We have been in contact with the property owner throughout the process and there have been several articles in the Observer regarding their plans for reopening.

In 2014, following a number of well-attended public meetings, the City of La Grande’s Urban Renewal Agency granted a loan of $500,000 to Town Square LP and Market Place Family Foods LLC for the development of a grocery store located at 1912 Fourth St. Prior to the Agency approval of the loan, the owner provided the Agency with a comprehensive application that included two market studies regarding the feasibility of the project. The loan funds awarded had to be used to make the physical improvements to the property, not to pay for the operation of the store. The Agency holds a lien on the property and interest is accruing on the loan that must be repaid unless certain provisions are met.

To receive forgiveness, the property must be used as a grocery store and maintain a minimum of six full-time employees, a minimum of five part-time employees, and be open for business a minimum of five days per week, 52 weeks per year. If these requirements are not met in any given calendar year or 12-month reporting period, the Agency shall not forgive any loan principal for that calendar year and the loan interest rate doubles to 10 percent for that year. The agreement allows up to 10 years to meet these requirements for loan forgiveness. Put simply, the loan is not in default, but the requirements for any loan forgiveness have not been achieved at this point in time.

The Agency’s decision to grant the loan was to accomplish three primary goals: First, to restore a blighted property at the core of La Grande’s downtown and increase the property tax assessment through physical improvements, which would result in additional revenue to the Agency. More than $1.2 million have been invested in the building, and it is now one of the better-looking properties in our downtown.

Second, the project would provide an anchor to the west end of La Grande’s main thoroughfare, Adams Avenue, that would meet the need of community members for additional grocery options. The property owner and initial business operator each provided independently conducted feasibility studies that demonstrated a grocery store was needed.

Finally, a grocery store located at this end of downtown would enhance the livability of the downtown core, increase foot traffic and support other downtown businesses.

Although the store is temporarily closed, we fully expect the owner to operate a grocery store in the building and fulfill the obligations of the loan agreement with the Agency, and to achieve the other two goals of the project.