Construction will begin soon on a new community food and retail complex for the former Delphina’s Bakery property at 4636 N.E. 42nd Ave. in the heart of the business district straddling the Concordia and Cully neighborhoods.
Carolyn Westerfield, former owner of Delphina’s and now CEO of Jane Dough Properties, has secured leases from a handful of local, community-oriented businesses, including a commissary kitchen from Stacey Givens at Cully’s Side Yard Farm; an artisanal bakery from Dillon DeBauche, formerly of Little T American Baker; and a restaurant from chef Maya Lovelace, who has been hosting the wildly popular Mae pop-up across the street in the Old Salt Marketplace Carver Room.
“It’s a rock star lineup,” said Westerfield, who is still negotiating with potential tenants for two or three remaining retail spaces in the northwest corner of what will be called – in a nod to the building’s baking history – the Jane Dough Building. “I’m so excited to have the opportunity to work with this amazing group of people, and we’ll have even more local entrepreneurs coming into the fold soon.”
“Carolyn has really been one of the true champions of our community,” said Michael DeMarco, executive director of Our 42nd Ave. Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative, who has worked with Westerfield on planning and tenanting the project. “It’s become clear that this is a legacy project for Carolyn. She could have done it in a fashion that would have been much more lucrative, but she’s put in a lot of time and a lot of effort to deliver a project that will ultimately benefit the community for many years to come.”
A former president of the 42nd Avenue Business Association and founding board member of Our 42nd Ave., Westerfield helped launch her bakery business in 1985 and sold it to the Essential Baking Company of Seattle in 2012. Essential continued to operate in the space until January of last year and since then, Westerfield – who retained ownership of the property – has since been shepherding the project forward.
Architect Brett Schulz, who designed the Zipper and Ocean complexes in the Kerns neighborhood for Kevin Cavanaugh’s Guerrilla Development, is designing the project, and Modern Organic Construction will serve as general contractor. The original building, which dates to at least the 1920s, did time as a Piggly Wiggly and Thriftway grocery store before Delphina’s purchased the property in 2000.
“Running a small retail cafe at the front of Delphina’s is really where I learned how special this community is,” said Westerfield. “It became a gathering place for the neighborhood and I met so many wonderful people who share a passion for its potential. I loved meeting my customers and learning about my neighbors. The heart of Delphina’s business was never really about our product, but about the people we shared it with.”
“Carolyn has been an integral part of the heart and soul of economic development on 42nd Avenue,” said Bob Granger, a Cully neighbor and business development adviser who was also a founding board member of Our 42nd Ave. “As a business leader, she’s the one who brought together the business association with residents like me to connect with the city’s neighborhood economic development initiatives. It wouldn’t have happened without Carolyn’s interest and passion. I could tell from the beginning that Carolyn really cares about community and wants to make a lasting contribution. Carolyn is a role model for neighborhood-friendly entrepreneurship.”
“I’m very excited to have Carolyn as a landlord,” said urban farmer Givens, whose goal is to bring neighborhood food producers, chefs and farmers together. “Side Yard Farm has been in the Cully neighborhood for almost ten years and we’ve been looking for a kitchen space on 42nd for about five years. Cully is a special place, with urban farms and homesteaders. I’ve been spoiled, being able to walk up the road and get fresh goat’s milk, duck’s eggs, honey, flowers and fruit. I wanted a space that was less than a mile from the farm. There was never a right fit until I met Carolyn and saw the Jane Dough space. I was her first tenant – and I’m happy to say it will be Side Yard’s home for as long as she’ll have me.”
The 2,400-square-foot commercial kitchen will be fully-equipped and licensed – and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Pay scales will be designed to fit the needs of different income levels and hours needed. Givens has launched a crowdfunding campaign to cover some of the equipment costs.
“The kitchen will be open to local food artisans, from caterers to bakers, to pop-up chefs, food carts and more,” said Givens. “We’ll also have a few spots available for low-income families with food businesses. With the farm right down the street, we’ll have that space available too, for entrepreneurs to use for farm-to-table pop-ups. We’ll offer a family discount on our produce. My main goal for this kitchen is to connect people closer to their food in every way that I can.”
Demolition work on the building has already been completed and tenant improvement work will begin soon. The project is slated for completion in late spring or early summer.
“We anticipate that part of the parking lot will be sold for development at some point and that will help to finance renovation of the existing building,” said DeMarco.
“We’ll be pretty careful and selective about what that project will look like and we’ll try to get somebody in there that will create some synergy. Maybe that could be a mixed-use project or maybe that could be a space where we could eventually land a green grocer. There’s also been some discussion about maybe moving the Cully Farmer’s Market over there.”
“Building out a commercial asset like a commissary kitchen is a big risk for a seed-to-plate farmer and chef,” said Givens. “We will be putting in long days and nights. This is not just a project, but our next step in a lifelong journey. With all of the challenges also come opportunities. That’s why we are taking the risk. We have an amazing landlord and great local and neighborhood business support. Our experience and our connections will allow us to navigate any challenges. We’re seeing how our community in Portland is changing. The risk of not taking this on may be greater than the risk of doing it, so we are moving forward.”