City Approves New Site Plan

If all goes well we could possibly break ground on the new store early next year!

The city council this week approved our new site plan. Your co-op altered plans to include a new access road from 23rd Street, because neighbors were concerned about the previous plan to use a more narrow street called Steam Whistle Way.

Three Mill Pond residential property owners had appealed our project and even though the city council had sided with the co-op, we wanted to avoid another possible appeal. Further, as a community-owned store, acceptance from our future neighbors is important.

According to the Daily Astorian, “City Manager Brett Estes said it is the first time in his career he has witnessed this kind of peaceful compromise after an issue has reached the battleground of the appeals process.”

It has been a challenging land use process, so the city manager’s positive comment is especially great to hear. We hope you are as proud as everyone on our development team to be a part of a project that’s moving forward with integrity!

Now it’s a matter of finalizing plans and getting permits so we can build our new store which could be open by early 2020. Timing is in line with a goal in the co-op’s strategic plan to open much-needed bigger new store.

New Site Plan

We went back to the drawing board and have a new site plan that neighbors who had opposed the layout of our future store now support.

Our expansion has been in a months-long land use process including a recent appeal by three residential property owners surrounding the co-op site. Their concerns centered around Steam Whistle Way, the street that would be used to access our parking lot. While the Astoria City Council ruled on our side, we wanted to see if we could alter the plan to satisfy neighbors, avoiding an expensive and time-consuming prospect of an appeal to the state.

So in order to move the project forward we’ve worked with stakeholders to develop a new site plan that uses an alternate access to our parking lot off of 23rd street. The appellants support this option. With an agreement in place, we will return to city council to sign off on the plan at a meeting September 24.

Next steps would include completing engineering of the new building and permitting. We hope to be in our much-needed bigger new store possibly as early as next year!

If you have questions or feedback please contact GM Matt Stanley matt@astoria.coop.

Astoria Co-op Grocery submits new layout for Mill Pond store
Daily Astorian September 5, 2018

Appeal Denied

Following a grueling three-hour city council meeting, a tentative ruling came in our favor. Astoria City Councilors voted to uphold the city design review committee’s approval of our project, and reject three Mill Pond resident’s appeal.

The crux of the controversy is over plans to access our new store off of a street called Steam Whistle Way. Unfortunately the co-op has not been able to find another configuration that would meet all government standards while providing the amenities that we need to operate a grocery store, including a dedicated receiving area and plenty of parking. We have attempted to go above and beyond to address the neighbor’s concerns, including widening a portion of Steam Whistle Way.

The city council will make a final vote on the appeal at a future meeting. We are hopeful and working diligently to bring our much-needed expansion to fruition and will keep you up-to-date as this complicated process progresses.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our general manager, Matt Stanley at matt@astoria.coop.

Read more about the meeting in the Daily Astorian article.

Appeal Meeting FAQ

What is the plan for Astoria Co+op’s new store? 

The co-op plans to build an 11,580 square foot building at the corner of 23rd and Marine Drive in Astoria. It will hold about 7,000 square feet of retail space that offers a full line of fresh foods – think full-service deli, an expansive organic produce section, local meat and seafood, and more. We hope to begin construction by the end of 2018 and open in 2019.  

What is happening on July 30th?

Astoria City Council is having a hearing to listen to some neighbors’ concerns regarding traffic behind their homes. We definitely want our co-op to be a positive impact on that neighborhood and we are optimistic that we can adequately address reasonable concerns.

Is the Mill Pond Home Owner’s Association (HOA) as a body appealing the co-op’s design? 

No. The appeal was filed by three individual property homeowners.

Why are attorneys involved? 

One of the individuals who owns a vacant lot next to the future new co-op has hired an attorney to present their appeal. The co-op’s developer partner thus felt obligated to retain representation to be sure we clearly demonstrate that our design meets the City’s criteria to the best possible standard.

How much will this delay our process?

Hopefully not too much. We have done our due diligence, we know this store will bring a lot of good to our community, and we appreciate everyone’s continued support!

How can I help?

Please attend the hearing at Astoria City Hall July 30th at 6 p.m. We need to show the City Council that we have huge community support and that our shoppers are ready to shop their new store without further delay.

I have more questions, who can I reach out to? 

If you have further questions please reach out to the co-op’s General Manager, Matt Stanley. He can be reached at matt@astoria.coop.

Project Appeal

Here’s an update from General Manager Matt Stanley:

The co-op’s Design Review Committee approval has been appealed by three Mill Pond residents. We will go before the City Council on July 30th at 6 p.m. at Astoria City Hall. The approval process has proved to be more challenging than anticipated. However, the greater Astoria community continues to provide us with enduring support.

We remain confident that the perceived negative impact to these individuals is vastly outweighed by the benefits the co-op brings to both them and the community at-large.

We will provide further updates as the hearing approaches. It will be imperative that the City Councilors and the Mayor hear from you urging them to vote to uphold the sound decision made by the Design Review Committee. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with further questions or concerns.

Design Review Meeting

We must receive approval at a Design Review Committee meeting on Thursday evening in order to stay on track to build you a bigger co-op! Meeting details are now available online.

Following our first go-round with the committee, we’ve provided an updated proposal to the city that we strongly feel meets criteria. Your presence at the meeting will help demonstrate to the committee that there is broad community support for the project. The Design Review Committee meets at Astoria City Hall Thursday June 7 at 5:30 p.m. Please contact General Manager Matt Stanley matt@astoria.coop if you have questions or need more information. Thanks for your continued support!

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Expansion Update: Design Review

By Matt Stanley/General Manager

On May 3rd at 5:30 p.m. at Astoria City Hall, the Astoria Design Review Committee will review the design of the building to ensure it meets local design standards. This is again another public forum where your support is much needed!

We know that our community is excited to see ground break on our new store. Every day a friendly customer asks “when do you break ground?” We have come so far and spent several years on our journey toward realizing the co-op our community and co-op leadership envisions; ample parking, expanded produce, a full service deli with hot food and lots of seating, an expanded offering of meat, an improved work environment for our staff and more. It only seems reasonable that customers and staff would be wondering “when will we start to see the physical manifestation of all our work?” Even in my own work carrying the project forward I must constantly remind myself of a Lao Tzu quote; “Nature doesn’t hurry yet everything is accomplished.”

The work toward our new store really is a “little engine that could” story. Consider how competitive natural and organic foods are these days. Consider the resources at the disposal of our competitors. To do things the cooperative way is to move slower and more conservatively, to listen to our members and the community at-large along the way, and ultimately to make informed and consensus-based decisions that ensure long-term success of our business. Our collaboration with over 150 food co-ops across the country goes a long way toward supporting our local efforts too (again, cooperative power at work).

We’ve surpassed some major hurdles toward making our new co-op a reality. These include everything from finding an ideal site, connecting with a developer-partner who believed in the project, raising our member-sourced capital, securing a necessary zone change from the city, and receiving a conditional approval for the outside lending needed to complete the project. And yes, where we find ourselves today is the culmination of several years of work. More work lies ahead!

Our most imminent hurdle is one more public approval necessary before we can complete engineering of the building and seek building permits. On May 3rd at 5:30 p.m. at Astoria City Hall, the Astoria Design Review Committee will review the design of the building to ensure it meets local design standards. This is again another public forum where your support is much needed! Please show up to help us demonstrate that this project has broad community interest and that our public representatives should make haste in helping us get shovels in the ground.

So how do I answer the daily ask, “When do you break ground?” If we get Design Review approval on May 3rd we can proceed to permitting and potentially break ground this fall. 8-12 months after breaking ground we’ll open our new store. The timeline will remain fluid due to the complexity of the project and the inevitable surprises that will occur along the way. We will continue to keep you updated on our progress. Of course, don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have concerns, ideas, or questions. Your continued support and cheer leading along the way is invaluable to our cooperative spirit. Our persistence and strong vision mean we’ll be saying hi to each other in our new co-op digs before we know it!

Cheers,

Matt Stanley, Co-op GM

Expansion Clears City Council

The Astoria City Council approved a rezone necessary for our new store at the Mill Pond site. This moves us another step closer to breaking ground. Design review will be next. We appreciate those who testified and wrote letters in support of the Co-op. It really helped! The land use process is complex, especially in our city that’s rich in history and character and where commercial property is scarce. While traffic was a topic of concern at the meeting–and the vote was three to one–the desire to see our homegrown business thrive was unanimous and we appreciate our city leader’s careful consideration and support. You can read more about what happened at the city council meeting in the Daily Astorian.