Trader Joe’s Drops Black-Neighborhood Store Plan

Yahoo! News, February 3, 2014

The Trader Joe’s grocery-store chain has dropped a plan to open a new store in the heart of the city’s historically African-American neighborhood after activists said the development would price black residents out of the area.

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“We open a limited number of stores each year, in communities across the country,” it said in a statement. “We run neighborhood stores, and our approach is simple: If a neighborhood does not want a Trader Joe’s, we understand, and we won’t open the store in question.”

The Portland Development Commission had offered a steep discount to the grocer on a parcel of nearly two acres that was appraised at up to $2.9 million: a purchase price of slightly more than $500,000. The lot is at Northeast Alberta Street and Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and has been vacant for years.

Critics said the development would displace residents and perpetuate income inequality in one of the most rapidly gentrifying ZIP codes in the nation.

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The Portland African American Leadership Forum sent the city a letter saying it would “remain opposed to any development in N/NE Portland that does not primarily benefit the Black community.” It said the grocery-store development would “increase the desirability of the neighborhood,” for “non-oppressed populations.”

Mayor Charlie Hales and the urban renewal agency’s executive director, Patrick Quinton, signed a letter in January that described what they said was the commission’s contributions “to the destructive impact of gentrification and displacement on the African American community.”

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