Bend May Get Another New Building Downtown

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A new mixed-use building may be constructed just north of Columbia River Bank on Wall Street and Newport Avenue, but only if the City of Bend and developer Emperial Properties LLC can agree on how to interpret the city code.

 

The new building is designed to include basement level parking, street level retail space, lease office space on the ground and second levels and condominiums on the third and fourth floors. Mark Wilhite, an owner of and representative for developer Emperial Properties, said the location is perfect for this type of building.

 

“I think downtown is going to move north,” Wilhite said. “That whole couple of blocks is going to be the new part of downtown. Where our project is, we would be one of the first to break ground to the north of downtown, so I think it would be good.”

 

Thomas Deatherage Architect AIA has been selected to design the building and a conceptual design has been made that includes post-tensioned slab construction, corner element and stepped back upper floors creating outdoor space for residents and an attractive street presence. The facade combines concrete and stone base elements with a storefront window system, sheet metal siding and extensive brick dealing. Emperial has owned the property for more than a year and tentatively planned to break ground in summer 2008, but a disagreement with the city over code may delay the project, or prevent it from happening at all.

 

“We’re in the central business district and in certain parts of that district there are different height requirements,” Wilhite said. “At our location the maximum height is 45 feet, but if you put residential on the upper floor you can go to 55 feet. We need that extra 10 feet and that’s the part the city is saying is wrong.”

 

Wilhite said the project will not be profitable without the extra floor of condominiums and he is frustrated with how city code can seemingly be interpreted in so many different ways.

 

In response to such planning problems, Bend’s Current Planning Division is instituting a new service, the pre-submittal meeting, which is designed to streamline the review of complex planning applications and provide greater certainty and consistency in land use decisions. Wilhite said he has not given up on the project yet.

 

“We got shot down a little bit and we need to fight to get this project through,” Wilhite said. “But in the meantime, our other projects have taken our focus and we’ll have to let this sit for awhile.”

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