Zupan’s departure dismays local businesses

The grocery store helped pioneer Portland’s signature mixed-use development pattern.

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Zupan’s Market on Belmont is closing after 20 years in the same location.

The grocer was one of the original partners in the redevelopment of the Belmont Dairy, a project that helped catalyze a new era of mixed use development.

Zupan’s executives could not be reached for comment. But the company has decided not to renew the lease, the Portland Business Journal reports.

In 1996, Belmont was a relatively high-poverty neighborhood known mostly for its concentration of social services.

Today the business district is a poster child for Portland’s thriving retail and restaurant scene. 

Belmont business owners expressed shock at the news.

“I’m very surprised and very sad,” said Connie Ihrke, owner of Belmont Eco Laundry and the president of the Belmont Business Association. “They have been an integral part of our community.” 

“Oh my God; I didn’t know that!”  said Valerie Hunter, owner of the 127-year old “Belmont Records” building across the street from Zupan’s. “That’s a great, money making location.”

Hunter is posed to bring another wave of change to Belmont. The Records’ building will be demolished and replaced by a three-story structure later this year.

The demolition has been the target of an online petition, and Hunter declined to comment further.  

“We’ve been dealing with so much negative response on social media it’s best not to say anything,” she said. 

BKL|A Architects is working with Hunter on the new building. The firm’s principal, Brett Lauila, declined to comment on the new design. “I have a lot to say about it — it’s great — but the owner asked me not to comment because the neighborhood is so upset about it.”

Laurila was unaware of the Zupan’s closure and noted its seminal role in the neighborhood’s redevelopment. 

“Did you say the Zupan’s store was closing?  That’s a big change. Zupan’s was key to the refurb of the Belmont Dairy.”

Zupan’s departure could impact on neighborhood property values, says realtor Doreen Vandermeer, who serves on the Belmont Business Association board. 

Vandermeer said having a supermarket within walking distince is critical to a neighborhood’s Walk Score.

“And if you have a Walk Score above 75, the value of a neighborhood increases tremendously.” Houses in the Belmont neighborhood typically pull in a 95-100 Walk Score.

“If you have to drive to get a carton milk, your score drops,” Vandermeer said.

It is unclear if another grocery store will move into the Zupan’s location. A New Seasons opened in the nearby Hawthorne neighborhood six years ago.

Market of Choice, a Eugene-based grocer, is set to open a store in a new development on 1004 SE Belmont.