You’re invited: Alberta Commons (Vanport South/MLK & Alberta) Community Hour – 12/6




Alberta Commons
Community Hour

Tuesday, December 6th
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Curious Comedy Theater
Vanport Square
5225 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.


The Portland Development Commission (PDC) and the Regional Arts & Cultural Council (RACC)
invite you to a Community Hour
to celebrate the start of construction of Alberta Commons and to meet the artists who will create public artwork for the project.

Refreshments Provided


Alberta Commons is the Natural Grocers-anchored project at the intersection of NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and NE Alberta Street. The project is expected to break ground this month and be completed in fall 2017. Members of the project team and PDC staff will provide updates on the construction schedule, the community benefits agreement, and the tenanting plan for the non-anchor space.

Two public artworks will be included on the building occupied by Natural Grocers. Meet the two artists selected for this work, see their past work, view their design concepts, hear what inspired their work, and share with each artist what you envision their artwork will express about your community.

  • Portland artist Arvie Smith creates beautiful paintings with luscious glowing color and fluid brushwork. Smith has had a distinguished teaching career and is professor emeritus at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland where he taught since the mid-‘80s.  Since 1998, he has traveled extensively through Ghana, Senegal, Mali, and Burkina Faso, West Africa. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Portland, and he currently has an exhibit at the Portland Art Museum’s APEX Gallery.
  • Mehran Heard’s drawings are intricate, energetic and colorful compositions that combine bold figurative work with imaginative imagery. He has created chalk murals, illustrations for corporate clients, skateboard designs, and album cover art and most recently had his work included in a group show in Sapporo, Japan. In 2015, Mehran collaborated with artist Jeremy Nichols on the Black United Fund mural that celebrates black women in history who have laid the groundwork for racial equality.

PDC update on Vanport/MLK & Alberta site

Alberta Commons Project Update

Natural Grocers rendering
Dear Community Member:

We’re happy to provide you with this update on the Alberta Commons project at NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, and Alberta Street.

As a reminder, the project is designed to convert the long-vacant lot into a neighborhood-serving retail center that complements the local businesses at Vanport Square and provides needed goods and services to the community. This $9.4 million project will consist of approximately 25,000 square feet of leasable space in two separate buildings on the MLK/Alberta commercial lot. Natural Grocers (a quality, affordable, organic grocery retail chain) is the anchor tenant. PDC will be the master lessor for 50 percent of the non-anchor space (5,100 sq. ft.) and will provide discounted commercial space to local, minority-owned businesses. Colas Construction, an African-American, family-owned business, is the general contractor for the project, and Majestic Realty is the developer.

Project Milestones

  • We anticipate the property will be conveyed from PDC to Majestic and construction will begin in November 2016.
  • The construction fencing is up! PDC has issued a permit of entry to Colas to be on the property pending closing.
  • The City of Portland has issued building permits to begin construction.
  • If the project breaks ground as anticipated in November 2016, the Natural Grocers store will be open by fall 2017.

Upcoming Meetings

  • The project team will provide an update at a project “community hour” at Horn of Africa in the next few weeks. Please watch for an invitation, and come ask questions of the team.
  • The Public Art Subcommittee is planning a community meeting on Tuesday, December 6 from 5 pm to 7 pm at the Curious Comedy Theater. The project team will provide an update, and attendees can meet the artists, hear their inspiration for the art pieces, and provide input on the public art! Please watch for an invitation, and come ask questions of the team.

Community Benefits & Oversight

The Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) resulted in the formation of the Implementation, Monitoring and Accountability Committee (IMAC) to ensure the delivery of the CBA. The IMAC meets quarterly to provide updates on the progress of the Retail Tenanting, Public Art, and Construction Workforce subcommittees established by the CBA. Here’s the status of key elements:

  • Construction Diversity: Colas Construction is finalizing contracts with subcontractors and currently anticipates achieving 55% participation by MWESB firms, including 41% by MBE firms.
  • Commercial Space: The PDC master-leased space will be subleased to two to six entrepreneurs of color looking for a storefront presence in Northeast. The Retail Tenanting Subcommittee is working to determine the ideal space layout that both activates the area and provides the best opportunities for future tenants to succeed. Please stay tuned for more details and the application process.
  • Public Art:  Mehran Heard and Arvie Smith are the artists selected for the installation of public art along the east (Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.) and south (Alberta Street) walls of the Natural Grocers building.
  • Hiring and Supply Chain opportunities at Natural Grocers: The store is anticipated to have 24-28 employees. Find out more about the Natural Grocers hiring & supply chain.

If you have any questions, please contact project manager Kimberly Moreland at or 503-823-3220. You can find out more about the project and background on our website.