On a double-sized block in Greenwood, at the far end of a sprawling parking lot, sits a big-box Fred Meyer that's been in business since 1975. For the first half of its life, this Fred Meyer and the slowly gentrifying neighborhood around it had a mostly peaceful coexistence. But starting in the booming late-'90s, those at Fred Meyer headquarters decided they needed a larger store on the site, and Greenwood residents bristled, launching a familiar fight pitting neighborhood character against the plans of a large chain retailer.

Over the next decade, the company went through an exhaustive back-and-forth with Greenwood residents over the proposed expansion's design and parameters, but a core of vocal residents, who sought something that fit in with the shops in the neighborhood's center, were never satisfied. Now, whether they like it or not, Fred Meyer plans to submit plans to the city later this month to begin the process of redeveloping the site, says Tom Gibbons, Fred Meyer's director of real estate. The new Fred Meyer will be about 30,000 square feet larger than the current store and will replace a small grocery store on the same block.

Gibbons says he has attended roughly 50 meetings to discuss the project with neighbors and the city. Over the last decade, Fred Meyer has morphed its plan from a big box into a thoughtful project that includes 270 apartments, a partially underground store, and space for new street-facing retail. The project meshes relatively well with the surrounding neighborhood—especially when compared to its current incarnation, a parking lot and a square building (aka, the dreaded big box).

Support The Stranger

Nonetheless, Trevor Stanley, acting president of the Greenwood Community Council, said the project is "just too massive."

Which is odd because this site has been a big-box store since 1975. If it wanted, Fred Meyer could use the existing building rules to build an even larger box. Still, if the neighbors want to keep delaying the project, there's always the next step—a design-review process with the city, which, if they're committed to complaint, could easily drag on for years. recommended