Work underway to open food cart pod
A new food cart pod in the works downtown passed an initial hurdle last week as the Newberg City Council signed off on a loan that would effectively space out nearly $11,000 in system development charges (SDCs).
Rick Condon, owner of the Bite of Newberg, said last week that the loan agreement makes the SDCs – and being able to pay them over about five years – more manageable as he makes significant upgrades to the property at 910 E. First St.
"We're just moving forward," he said.
The food cart pod will occupy the southern part of the former Newberg Park & Sell lot, which had been around for more than 25 years before the owners shut down the business earlier this summer. The larger parking lot on the north side of First Street has been rented by George Fox University to serve as a parking lot for students commuting to Newberg and saw use beginning last week.
The council approved a loan agreement that will temporarily cover $10,962 in SDCs and gives Condon about five years to pay back the full cost of those fees at an interest rate of 1.45 percent.
The council approved the agreement with little discussion in a package of other items on its consent agenda Thursday evening.
City Engineer Kaaren Hofmann said the amount can be tough for a small business to swallow, but many cities and governments in the area are still working out approaches to classify food cart pods.
"The food cart business, it's a relatively new thing," she said. "So different jurisdictions are looking at it in different ways."
Noting how Beaverton treats such food carts as fast-food restaurants, which she said charges an SDC for a high volume of traffic that a drive-through would attract, Hofmann took the approach that such a food cart pod would be more of a place that people walk to and sit down to eat.
She also explained that redeveloping a property means that a business owner gets credit for what used to be there, meaning that Bite of Newberg – also called Taste of Newberg at times – gets credit for the car traffic that the Newberg Park & Sell would have generated. It also won't be assessed stormwater SDCs – which are determined by how much runoff into the sewer system a property will create with its paved surfaces – on account of the property already being entirely paved.
However, as the property had no water or sewer connections, she said the business was hit with the full cost of those connection fees.
She also noted that the current SDCs assume there will be five food trucks on the property, and the fees will go up if or when new food trucks set up shop there.
For now, only two food carts have been using the property: Bangkok Noi Thai, owned by Condon's wife and serving Thai cuisine, and Wiki Wiki Weenie, serving Hawaiian-inspired hot dogs.
Condon reported last week that the sewer and water connections are in place and work to start repaving the lot will begin this week.
He added that it remains unclear when more food carts will start serving from the property as he won't get an occupancy license from the city until some work occurs on the driveway.