Grocery Outlet hopes to build a store next to the new Astoria Co+op.
Developers representing the discount chain want to open a one-story, 16,000-square-foot store on a triangular piece of property, formerly home to the NAPA Auto Parts store and behind the Astoria Mini Mart East off Marine Drive.
The store would be located directly across from the Astoria Co+op, a natural and organic food store under construction. The co-op plans to relocate from its location on Exchange Street downtown and open at the new building in the Mill Pond neighborhood by December.
When asked how a Grocery Outlet next door might impact the Astoria Co+op, General Manager Matt Stanley emphasized what the co-op offers in terms of fresh and natural food.
“One of the main purposes of expansion is to make our community-owned business more competitive by showcasing what makes us unique in a bigger way,” he said.
The city’s Design Review Committee will discuss Grocery Outlet’s application at an Aug. 1 meeting. It will be the only public review of the project. Commercial retail is considered an outright permitted use, but the property falls under two city overlay zones — Civic Greenway and Gateway — triggering review by the committee.
City staff will recommend approval with conditions, according to Rosemary Johnson, a city planning consultant. However, the Design Review Committee will need to come to its own conclusions on two big issues.
Because of the shape and position of the lot, Grocery Outlet would need to use Marine Drive as the primary access point to its parking lot instead of 23rd Street. City code typically discourages such moves, but city engineering staff and the Oregon Department of Transportation prefer it in this case.
The other issue is parking. The city’s overlay zone codes say parking lots and spaces should not be located between buildings and the street. But the shape of the lot makes conforming strictly to the code tricky.
Site plans show the store located at the corner of Commercial Street and 23rd Street, with parking to the west along Commercial Street and Marine Drive.
Grocery Outlet still needs to address what Johnson calls “finer details” related to lighting and landscaping, but developers looked to the co-op’s design as a guide for the exterior of their store.
“They have horizontal siding and a mixture of vertical corrugated metal,” Johnson said.
The same developers behind the proposed Grocery Outlet in Astoria landed approval for a store in Seaside earlier this year.
Two years ago, the Design Review Committee rejected a Dollar General store in the Mill Pond neighborhood after city staff found the project failed to meet several requirements in the development code.