Friday, October 23, 2009

Hawthorne Design Decision

By Brian Rohter, CEO, and Lisa Sedlar, President

Hello Friends and Neighbors,

As you know for the last few months we’ve been working on finalizing the design of the New Seasons Market that we’re opening on Hawthorne, between 40th and 41st. We’re very grateful for the warm welcome we’ve received and we’re really looking forward to being an active and contributing member of the neighborhood.

While everyone seems to be excited about our overall plans, we heard lots of questions and concerns about our proposal for how to get cars and trucks in and out of our parking lot. As you may remember, the plan calls for a ramp to the second floor parking lot to be located on one side of the building and the receiving door for freight (and the associated parking area for smaller delivery trucks) to be located on the other side of the building.

The plan that we brought to the neighborhood meeting this summer showed the ramp entrance on 41st and the receiving door on 40th. We designed the store like that because we felt it best met the needs of all of the stakeholders, including our customers, neighbors, staff, suppliers, drivers on Hawthorne and the side streets, pedestrians and bicyclists. During numerous meetings, neighbors, adjacent business owners, city staff and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance shared their various perspectives about how this issue could be resolved. After listening to everyone’s point of view, only one thing was clear: We needed more help to figure out how to proceed.

As a result, we hired Kittleson and Associates, a transportation planning consulting company to perform a traffic study and to make a recommendation about which design would best meet the needs of the stakeholders. Kittleson is an independent third party, with no stake in the outcome of our project. We didn’t ask them to come to any specific conclusion and they get paid the same fee regardless of which scenario they recommended. We will admit that we were hopeful that the Kittleson report would suggest having the delivery area on 40th because it would make operating the store much more efficient.

However, their study clearly indicates that the best option is to flip the building design from our current proposal and to put the parking ramp on 40th and the receiving area on 41st. According to Kittleson, this will create a safer environment for vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians and neighbors on the side streets and contribute to a better flow of traffic on Hawthorne as a whole and in and out of our parking lot. You can read the entire Kittleson report here
and here.

On Wednesday October 21, we met with representatives from the Portland Bureau of Transportation to share the results from the Kittleson report. Everyone at the meeting agreed that following the recommendations of the independent third party was the best way to go.

This means that we’re going to design and build a store that has the parking ramp on SE 40th and the delivery area on SE 41st. We’re thankful for all of the input that we received from the neighbors, the city and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. It was very helpful to us in making this decision.

We realize that some people may be disappointed with this outcome. We apologize for that and assure you that we’ll continue to work with you to be a good neighbor.
Please feel free to get back to us if you have any questions or comments.

Thanks again.