New Seasons confirmed this morning that it has big plans for the Eliot neighborhood: The locally-owned grocer will be opening a 30,000 square foot store on North Williams, turning a long-vacant lot into its 13th store by 2013. New Seasons says the store will create 150 new jobs.

BikePortland got the scoop on the new store from its newly-filed land use permit (pdf). The store is slated to take up the block between North Cook and North Fremont, bordered by North Williams and Vancouver. Here's what the block looks like now, courtesy of Google Maps:


And here's New Season's plan. It's a one-story building that includes 60 surface parking spots (it would be nice to see fewer spots—since this is a bike and transit corridor—but I guess they're trying to attract people off I-5):


The proposed New Seasons site is significant for a couple reasons. First of all, it's smack on the middle of what the city considers a food desert (a map of Portland's food deserts is below the cut). Some neighborhoods, like Lents, have been pushing New Seasons to set up shop in their area and the PDC has backed a "grocery store initiative" to attract stores to urban renewal areas. But grocers looks at an array of factors—including, significantly, the market for their store in the area—to decide where to build new stores.

Looking at that market power, North Williams is one of the most rapidly gentrifying areas in Portland. Current discussion over improving bike facilities on the street have been sidelined by an outpouring of resident frustration over unequal change in the area. Imagine the impact a New Seasons will have on the street! If talk of just a widened bike lane is enough to spark fierce debate, what about talk of a block-sized hippie grocery store?

A pre-application conference with the city is scheduled for January 17th, 10:30am, at 1900 SW 4th Avenue. A couple more images of the store from its permit are below the cut!

UPDATE: My friend Esther pointed me to this old photo of the Wonder Bread factory which used to be on the lot, until it closed in 2000 and was torn down in 2008 to make way for a mixed use development that never materialized.

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Here's the map of food deserts in Portland:

(EDIT: The first map was missing a legend—whoops—so I added this new one at 11:50am).