We are family representatives for the property proposed for a Grocery Outlet in Astoria.

We want to share a few thoughts. Our dad, Robert P. Heestand, owned Nehalem Valley Motor Freight, the facility now occupied by TP Freight Lines. He was a small-business owner who grew up in and loved Oregon. Dad offered many good union jobs in Astoria. Dave and Karen Johnson, owners of NAPA Auto Parts, asked and he built them a building so they could fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams. Thus, more jobs were created in Astoria.

Grocery Outlet

A line outside Grocery Outlet when a new store opened in Rainier last year.

Now a developer wants to create more jobs and offer affordable groceries. The opposition makes little sense to us. Does Astoria have all of the jobs it ever needs and wants?

On July 30, reporter Katie Frankowicz gave what appeared to be a fair overview of the various interests, “New Grocery Outlet in Astoria would complicate intersection.” On Aug. 1, she wrote, “Online fight over Grocery Outlet echoes other campaigns.” On Aug. 27, the editorial department weighed in and voiced opposition to the Grocery Outlet development.

Fitting into the beauty and coastal environment of Oregon is a priority for Astoria.

Having seen the drawings for the building, it appears to be architecturally appropriate. Yet, when the design team fulfilled the need for attractiveness, new demands and new objections came forth.

Mysterious letters from law firms arrived at the last minute. Now the site traffic is a major concern? Large trucks have been pulling in and out of the property from U.S. Highway 30 for over 60 years.

Through the property, we’ve paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in property tax to the region over more than 60 years. We are not some nameless entity, not outsiders — we grew up Oregonians. We contributed to the common good of Oregon. Yet, fallow land has little tax value.

It is now crunch time for the developer and the development has to make economic sense to them.

The city, the citizens and the newspaper cannot demand that the developer find some other land. They are a private company and have every right to buy what they believe is viable. The same parties cannot demand our real estate representative just magically create some other developer to purchase and build some project, any project, it doesn’t work that way.

The land is private. It has a valid retail building on it, and a valid right to develop retail there. It also has an ancient truck terminal which rightfully stands there — as long as viable development is not allowed to build in the location. It stands as a sore thumb today and will for years to come because your and our best option sits in front of the Design Review Committee now.

If this development fails, as citizens and visitors alike drive by, they may wonder why this property remains ugly and without an attractive new building. The reality is you can look to this date and time to know the reason.

We as owners will have no choice but to lease the building to any business wanting the space. Any retailer. Of any type. The land has automatic rights for retail and that is what you’ll get.

We don’t have to ask permission to sign a lease. You truly do not know, as we do not know, who or what will be interested. Maybe Astoria will like it. Maybe Astoria will not. However, if the lease offer is economically viable, we will sign it and they will move in.

Finally, maybe you are a citizen and you think one of those new jobs at Grocery Outlet would be good for your family. If so, maybe it’s time to let your voice be heard. New jobs are great. An attractive building offering affordable groceries is great.

Opposition might seem great until you put the whole thing into perspective — then it is simply a bad outcome for all concerned.

William Heestand is the family representative for the property owners.

(1) comment

Roger Lindsley

We know how much you care about the attractiveness of this property, from how you have maintained it so far. The concerns about the traffic at that intersection are valid. Obviously, this neighborhood, this city, Does not want a grocery outlet at this location. This location is next to other newly developed properties, that are not similar in function or appearance to a grocery outlet.

It is possible to appreciate past business development on this property, And still hope for something better in the stead of a grocery outlet.

In full disclosure, I have family employed at the Astoria co-op, and I am a huge fan of city lumber, and I would prefer personally that a lower traffic business would be located there. But I do not support using zoning and planning as a way to block the development of any property in Astoria.

That being said, I hope that you have a good plan for shipping and receiving traffic, and I would hope that ODOT creates better turning lane options. Even if that means using Condemnation powers to accomplish this.

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