Worst-kept secret: Fred Meyer's South Waterfront plan

Portland’s ambitious South Waterfront experiment in neighborhood-making looked a lot like a failure when the Great Recession hit.

Lenders took over its glassy condominium towers and for-profit developers took a pass on it (and just about every other neighborhood, too).

The for-profit developers are back with some 600-plus apartment units in various stages of planning and development.

The news signals a new beginning for the 120-plus acre development along the Willamette River that goes beyond public investments in the new $1.49 billion Max line or the $295 million Collaborative Live Sciences building, both under construction.

Photographer Cathy Cheney and I visited with residents at Elizabeth Caruthers Park the other day to chat about the district’s future. We heard the same complaint from everyone we encountered: Where’s the shopping?

Fred Meyer may be the answer.

The Portland-based grocer is purchasing a 7,800-square-foot retail condo at Atwater Place for its unconfirmed urban format grocery concept.

Fred Meyer, a division of Cincinnati-based Kroger Corp., wouldn’t comment on the plans. But last year, president Lynn Gust confirmed the company was exploring the idea of a small format model to its big box department stores, following in the footsteps of rivals such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp.

Business Journal subscribers can learn more about the return of retailers and developers to South Waterfront in the Friday edition of the paper.

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