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James Beard Public Market One Step Closer to Actuality?

Rendering courtesy Melvin Mark Companies

Maybe. Portland's long-stewing idea for a public market a la Seattle's Pike Place might actually finally be happening, y'all. Yesterday, Multnomah Country accepted a proposal submitted by developer Melvin Mark Companies and the Portland Public Market to turn the West Morrison Bridgehead into the James Beard Public Market, named for Oregon's favorite (foodie) son. The idea will now go to the county commissioners office, which will vote on May 26 whether or not to approve development.

The idea for the Beard Public market has been floating around town since late 2008/early 2009, with early support coming from major food retailers (New Seasons, Whole Foods), and local entrepreneurs alike (Mother's Bistro's Lisa Schroeder and the Meadow's Jennifer Turner Bitterman have both submitted letters of endorsements). An early proposal organizes the Bridgehead site into 110 "permanent vendor stalls, restaurants, and food-related shops" that pair well with downtown's Pioneer Courthouse Square, (Portland's "living room"), "by providing the city with its 'kitchen and pantry.'"

The project has been held up repeatedly in county red tape, and when proposals were finally submitted in February of this year, two major frontrunners emerged — with Marks' now getting the edge. (The other proposal with financial backing, submitted by Greg Goodman and developers Gerding Edlen, would have turned the site into residential and office rental space.) According to Portland Public Market, the buck has now been passed to County Commissioners, who "will vote on whether or not to authorize negotiations with us for a development agreement, which would allow us to proceed." Stay tuned.
· Portland Public Market [Official site]
· All Previous James Beard Public Market Coverage [Eater PDX]

James Beard Public Market

SW Washington and SW 2nd Ave, Portland OR