A decision on whether to allow WinCo Foods to build a supermarket at the site of the vacant Kmart will not be rendered for at least six weeks, and most likely longer, as the legal wrangling over the proposal has begun.
The Roseburg Planning Commission held its first hearing on the matter Monday. Representatives from WinCo Foods explained the company’s plan, which entails demolishing the old Kmart, at 2757 NW Stewart Parkway, and replacing it with a WinCo supermarket.
“As the real estate guy for WinCo, I can tell you that we’re very excited to be here tonight,” Greg Goins, vice president of real estate for WinCo, said via Zoom. “We’ve looked for an opportunity to build in Roseburg for more than 10 years.”
Goins said it is not unusual for WinCo to purchase a closed store and turn it into a WinCo supermarket. WinCo took over a former Kmart in Albany a few years ago, did the same with a ShopKo in Bend recently and is planning to do the same with a former ShopKo in Eugene, he said.
“We have spent quite a number of years looking for just the right opportunity, so when the Kmart closed we were in a position to make a deal and bring this project forward,” Goins said. “We’re very excited about the opportunity to hopefully obtain city approval to proceed with this project.”
The Kmart building covers about 88,000 square feet. The new WinCo store would be about 73,000 square feet, according to the plans submitted to the city. The store will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
There were two objections to the proposal submitted to the Planning Commission.
Robert and Susan Smith of Roseburg sent a complaint via email, saying they were concerned about impacts on traffic, air pollution due to increased traffic and construction noise.
Eugene attorney Sean Malone spoke on behalf of the group Safe Streets Roseburg. Malone said if allowed, the WinCo supermarket would generate traffic to the area “not seen in years, if ever.” Because of that, Malone said the group and its members were concerned about the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.
Malone criticized the traffic analysis conducted on behalf of WinCo, saying it was insufficient. He questioned whether the pedestrian walkways in the plans were safe and convenient, as required by city regulations.
Goins said he and the WinCo team worked closely with city staff to ensure that the project met all city regulations. He also said in some cases the project went beyond what was required by the city, such as putting in 3,000 more square feet of landscaping than was required.
The Planning Commission set up a schedule, agreed to by both WinCo and Malone, that calls for additional testimony and evidence to be submitted until April 22. The Planning Commission will then take up the matter at its next meeting, scheduled for May 3.
Once a decision is made, the Planning Commission will ask the prevailing party to prepare findings. The Planning Commission will then tentatively meet on May 17 to adopt those findings.
If the Planning Commission decision is appealed, it would come before the City Council. And if the City Council’s decision is appealed, it would go to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.
The property WinCo intends to buy covers two parcels, the Kmart site and the Big 5 Sporting Goods building, at 2655 NW Stewart Parkway. The total site covers about 9.45 acres. WinCo has said it has no plans to change the current business operations of Big 5.
WinCo is under contract to buy the property, but will not close on the deal until it receives final approval to build the supermarket at the site, Noah Fleisher, director of corporate communications for WinCo, said last week. That is typical for such developments, he said.
Once construction begins it should take about a year before the store opens, Fleisher said.
WinCo has 133 supermarkets in 11 states, including 23 in Oregon. WinCo also has a distribution center in Tri City that employs more than 50 people.