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Northeast Portland residents oppose plans to turn abandoned Kmart into freight warehouse

The 260,000 square foot transfer station would be built on the old Kmart store property across from Parkrose High School.

PORTLAND, Oregon — In Portland’s Argay Terrace neighborhood, cyclone fencing surrounds the old Kmart building on Northeast 122nd Avenue and Sandy Boulevard. The big box store, which shuttered in 2018, is covered in graffiti. Looking at it now, it's tough to imagine what the property once was, but what it may soon become is upsetting many who live in and near the neighborhood.

San Francisco-based industrial real estate developer Prologis is leasing the site, which it plans to turn into a 260,000 square foot freight distribution warehouse.

"The idea of that being blighted by a 38-bay diesel truck transfer station just blows my mind," said Breylan Deal-Eriksen, who lives in nearby Maywood Park. 

On Feb. 28 he started a petition opposing the warehouse project. After one week, nearly 3,000 people had signed it.

"North Portland where I work, they get a Green Zebra and a New Seasons Market," Breylan-Eriksen said. "We get a diesel transfer station. Doesn't feel equitable."

Breylan-Eriksen said his top concerns are pollution from all the diesel trucks and safety, especially for kids. The proposed site is across the street from Parkrose High School, Parkrose Middle School and several sports fields.

"This area already has the highest level of diesel emissions and we just don't need anymore," said Kate Lamb, whose grandkids attended Parkrose schools. "We are a food desert and a restaurant desert down here, and I know the community would support something like that."

Prologis hopes the community will support their vision once they learn more about it. That includes plans to spend $39 million on redeveloping the property, which they say would be LEED certified. They're also planning street improvements to increase pedestrian safety including room for a 6-foot bike lane and a 6-foot sidewalk along 122nd Avenue. 

Prologis shared this statement with KGW:

"We are making a significant investment to convert the idle vacant site and build a modern, sustainable logistics facility that will create new jobs and support the local economy. We will continue to engage with the community on this project (which is zoned for industrial use), including any concerns around traffic, and work with the city to obtain the necessary approvals. Prologis has been a member of the Portland business community for 30 years with employees who live and work here."

"It's not a done deal," Lamb said. "They can't do anything until they get the permits."

For that reason, Lamb and other neighbors said they'll keep fighting plans for a warehouse as long as they can.

The Parkrose School Board of Education has also raised concerns about the warehouse project. Board Chair Elizabeth Durant told KGW they too are concerned about potential health and safety impacts on students.

"As a community that already faces significant barriers to livability and thriving," Durant said, "Parkrose School Board asks the Portland City Council to honor the city’s commitment to environmental justice for historically underserved communities."

Last month, the board asked the city to issue an emergency moratorium on developing logistics warehouses in east Portland that are bigger than 250,000 square feet. That's similar to the 6-month moratorium the City of Vancouver recently enacted on building large warehouses. They'll use that time to study the impact those facilities might have on several fronts including the environment, neighborhoods and the economy.

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