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Winco to build Grants Pass store

Jobs — a lot of jobs, in fact — are coming to Grants Pass along with one of the top supermarket chains in the country.

WinCo Foods, which is based in Boise, Idaho, intends to build a 72,000-square-foot store on the corner of the Grants Pass Parkway and Terry Lane, west of Shari's restaurant. The store will employ an estimated 150 to 180 people at "full-time, family wage jobs with benefits," according to local real estate agent Gerard Fitzgerald.

The city of Grants Pass received an application for the development on Oct. 16.

"The applicant plans to break ground in the spring and anticipates the project will take nine months to complete," Lora Glover, a senior planner with the city, said.

The development includes four lots covering 8.34 acres. The store and its parking lot will occupy 7.54 acres of the property.

The other three lots, or "building pods" as Fitzgerald refers to them, are on the west end of the development. One pod, which takes up 0.21 of an acre, will be a Starbucks coffee shop, Fitzgerald said. The other two pods have pending tenants, he added, but no leases have been signed and he declined to identify them.

Part of the land includes the former Siskiyou RV business. That company was purchased by Affordable Truck & RV this spring. The Siskiyou employees have already moved over to Affordable, which is located at 324 Redwood Highway, and the remaining inventory will be moved.

The 8.34 acres next to the Parkway was part of the estate of Charlie Morrison, a Grants Pass businessman, philanthropist and the namesake of Morrison Centennial Park in southeast Grants Pass.

Fitzgerald represented the Morrison family in the sale of the property to PECO NNN, a real estate investment company based in Salt Lake City. PECO in turn brokered the deal with WinCo.

Fitzgerald said there have been "multiple suitors" over the years for the prime piece of land, even though it's never been put up for sale.

"The property has never been on the market," Fitzgerald said. Nonetheless, Fitzgerald said that, over the years, he has fielded calls from several real estate investment companies but the Morrison family was never interested until the WinCo project materialized.

"They think it's a good thing for the city," Fitzgerald said.

The three children of Charlie Morrison comprise the family trust and they all "live, work and play here. They grew up here and went to school here," Fitzgerald said.

He touted the significance of not only the jobs, but also the money that will stay in Grants Pass rather than drain out of the community to Medford. WinCo officials had determined a large number of local residents were shopping at a WinCo store in Medford, Fitzgerald said.

WinCo, which was founded in 1967, is an employee-owned chain, and offers most staffers, including part-time employees, pension benefits and health care coverage.

It has retail stores in Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Texas. As of March 2014, it has 93 retail stores and four distribution centers with 14,200 employees.

Two distribution centers are in Oregon — one on Interstate 5 near Riddle and the other in Woodburn, which is along I-5 between Portland and Salem. Another is in Boise and the fourth is located in Modesto, Calif.