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WinCo Foods reveals new store plans

Larger site at 153rd Drive and TV Highway would replace existing Cedar Hills Crossing store

WinCo Food Stores officials looking to relocate the grocery chain's Cedar Hills Boulevard store to an expanded location at Southwest 153rd Drive and Tualatin Valley Highway recently met with neighbors to discuss the project.

Located on dormant property behind Carr Chevrolet, the proposed store would employ nearly 200 workers and provide 97,000 square feet of space and 482 parking places. The Cedar Hills Crossing location has 176 employees in 83,000 square feet of space and 388 parking spots.

The Idaho-based discount grocery chain, which has had a Beaverton presence for 33 years, is expected to open the new store by 2014.

The company has looked for appropriate relocation sites for more than three years, said Morgan Randis, WinCo's vice president of development.

WinCo is seeking a zoning change from the city of Beaverton for the property, which contains a 1960s-era warehouse that once housed a General Motors parts operation. If approved, the zoning would change to 'commercial' from its current 'split-zoned' designation of commercial and 'campus/industrial.'

After the zoning change, the proposal must then go through the city's comprehensive plan process, which typically takes 120 to 150 days, said Gary Brentano, the city's economic development director, after the neighbors' meeting.

To keep the project on track, the company has asked the city to process the requests at the same time.

'They've chosen to move forward with the two processes simultaneously,' he said. 'They're seeking to move construction forward as fast as they can.'

Despite the lingering economic recession, Brentano said Carr Automotive, which purchased the land from General Motors, has attracted a steady stream of interest through actively marketing the property.

'It's one that appears to have a considerable amount of momentum on the part of the developer,' he said.

The store, as WinCo officials described to city planners and neighbors of the proposed development, will offer employee benefits including health insurance for those who work at least 21 hours per week and flexible work schedules.

Brentano praised the company's reputation for treating its employees compassionately.

'They offer a very competitive wage compared to (some) other grocery stores,' he said. 'Employees can and do receive company stock options. WinCo is a very responsible employer that treats its employees very well.'

Future neighbors were curious about how the store planned to manage stray shopping carts that end up along roadsides and parking lots as well as whether the store would feature gasoline pumps.

The store will have a 'cart containment' system around the perimeter to prevent cart wheels from rolling anywhere beyond the parking lot. And, a fuel station is not part of the existing plans.

'WinCo is not in the fuel business and has no plans to get into it,' Randis said. 'We set up three test fuel stations, and it was rapidly decided (we) did not want to continue.'

Company officials are also working with city traffic engineers to determine if a new traffic light is warranted on 153rd Drive to accommodate the anticipated extra traffic from the store.

The WinCo development would allow 18 vehicles 'stacked' in the turning lanes leading to the access road.

'The process of deciding on whether there will need to be a traffic light or not will consider the curve of 153rd Drive, which impedes a view of the property,' said Ty Morrison, WinCo Foods' project manager.