The Portland Mercado is coming to Foster, and it’s going to be big.
There are only few draws along Foster that bring people in from all over the region. These destinations create and shape the greater Portland’s perception of our neighborhoods (for good, or for bad), and can support our growing vitality by bringing in more foot traffic than we’d receive from neighborhood residents alone. Some of these are ‘specialty’ destinations, like Red Castle Games, The Gun Room, Artistic Taxidermy and New Copper Penny. Others, more utilitarian, like Lansing Linoleum, Standard Appliance, and U-Haul.
But coming soon will be the Portland Mercado, which may transcend these conventional boundaries of regional vs local, specialty vs community. The Mercado will be part specialty store, butcher, local grocery, restaurants and services, serving both the regional and local hispanic population in addition to everyone else.
Last we heard Hacienda CDC had earned two grants to support their efforts, and were in continuing negotiations with the PDC to secure the site at 72nd. We spoke with Community Development Planner Ellen Wyoming to get the latest on the project and learn more.
The project recently won a large grant totaling around $800,000. This is an amazing first step for them, but it is around half of the money they need to develop the project. A key factor under negotiation right now is with regards to the land itself. To work as budgeted, the Mercado needs to collaborate with PDC to make sure they can use the site at a subsidized cost. Without the assistance, the cost of land would make development cost prohibitive. Ellen described this as ”a Public- Nonprofit Partnership.”
Multiple potential sites were explored in the 2012 Mercado Market Study in addition to the site at 72nd & Foster, including northeast on 122nd, Lents Town Center, and Clackamas. Ultimately 72nd came out on top.
“The site fits all of our selection criteria, and the location and demographics in the immediate area were desirable.” - Community Development Planner Ellen Wyoming
At the presentations to the neighborhood associations earlier in the year, Hacienda was unclear as to whether the existing building could be re used, or if they would have to tear it down and build new. Ellen tells us “We’re planning adaptive re-use of the existing building. We’d like to rip out and make permeable the front part of the parking lot and make a really active, inviting space.” The group is talking with nonprofit Depave to see if the Portland Mercado site could be a candidate as one of their asphalt removal projects.
Velentina Orantes (firstname.lastname@example.org) is working with business owners to open within the Mercado. Valentina is a microbusiness entrepreneur and educator. A third party review panel has been evaluating business plans for potential Mercado vendors. At the end of the month, some will make the cut, and open applications will be held to fill the remaining spots. The focus of their vendor outreach will be low income Latino community members and Latino business owners. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Valentina.
Hacienda is not just handing out business space to just anybody. The bar will be high.
“Each business needs to have a strong business plan and the capacity to succeed. The goal is to cultivate strong people that are going to be good business owners.”
Large projects like this always take time, but you could see the change sooner than you’d think. A request for proposals will be issued in early 2013 for the design-build team, and by Summer 2014 people can start shopping, eating, and enjoying themselves at the Mercado.
For those interested in staying informed the Mercado, keep an eye on the Portland Mercado blog, and keep checking with Foster United for updates.