[Foodplanning] TOD and healthy food options
mjohnson at ci.portland.or.us
Thu Dec 15 08:43:06 PST 2005
In Portland we have a couple of natural food stores near or on LRT or
streetcar. Neither were the result of regs that specifically supported
natural food stores, however other design requirements did affect
development. Urban renewal efforts, through the Portland Development
Commission, also supported the first example. (Unfortunately I don't have
funding details.) There are at least two other mixed use buildings with
grocery stores in Portland and another in a suburban location.
Whole Foods Market is located on a very busy thoroughfare in downtown, one
block from a streetcar stop and on several bus lines. It is the first floor
of a mixed use building. Parking is provided underneath the building and is
shared with other building tenants. (I don't know the parking ratios but
they must be considerably lower than typical grocery store ratios.) The area
is newly developing with high density housing and there are lots of retail
uses nearby so there are lots of customers within walking distance, in
addition to those who take the streetcar.
New Seasons Market's Arbor Lodge Store is located near a LRT station in a
predominantly single-family and lower-density multifamily neighborhood. The
store is similar in size to a conventional store, though not as large as the
superstores popular now. It includes a considerable amount of off-street
surface parking, though not as much as traditional grocery stores. The
developer said that Portland transit regulations that require that buildings
be located near the sidewalk on transit streets (bus, LRT or streetcar
lines) complicated the project because site access for drivers is restricted
by the LRT, which runs and has stops in the center of the street.
In Portland, it would be difficult to write regulations that favor a
particular type of store. The Portland Development Commission can negotiate
development conditions, including types of tenants, for projects they help
support. They look at the market mix in the area, quality of development and
>From a land use perspective, here are some observations that may be helpful.
* Residential density is key to creating nearby demand for such a
store and reducing auto dependency. (Having an active retail district may be
helpful as well.)
* In Portland, parking needs to be part of the mix, but it can be more
efficient and transit supportive. The best formula seems to be high-density
mixed use that allows for shared parking arrangements in underground or
structured parking. In Portland, we have maximum parking ratios within the
Central City, but no minimums, so some developers look for ways to minimize
the need to provide costly parking spaces.
* Building size/block size - Most Portland blocks are 200' x 200'.
This seems to work well for natural food and other specialty stores that
tend to have smaller store footprints than conventional grocery stores.
* Building orientation and design - On most streets in the Central
City ground floor windows are required and on many streets the first floor
space fronting the street must be built to accommodate retail (higher
floor-to-ceiling heights). Throughout the city, development transit streets
must be oriented toward the sidewalk with no parking between the building
and the street. This has resulted in some very community-friendly grocery
stores - both natural food stores and chain stores.
It may be useful to talk with local developers of these projects to hear
their perspectives as well. Vancouver B.C. has been successful in promoting
this type of development as well.
Hope this is helpful.
Bureau of Planning
e-mail: mjohnson at ci.portland.or.us
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