Old Mill District Increases Occupancy


by RENEE PATRICK Cascade Business News Feature Writer

The Old Mill District recently announced the addition of six new tenants into their complex.  According to Noelle Fredland, marketing director with the Old Mill District, “It’s great to see people much more aggressive in their leasing and coming to us wanting to make it happen right away.” 

In the last two years the Old Mill had plenty of interested tenants, but on the whole, these businesses had a general insecurity in the leasing process. Fredland believes the optimism in the economy is cautious, but attitudes began to turn around at the end of the fourth quarter last year. “We have had to turn folks away because we don’t have a spot for them, we have several signed letters of intent for 2012 and 2013 of people waiting for a spot to open up. I think people recognize more opportunity in the marketplace and appreciate the destination appeal of the Old Mill District.”

New tenants include Ginger’s Kitchenware and Mio Sushi which will be splitting the space Allyson’s Kitchen had formerly occupied, Oasis Spa which will be the first tenant into a space that has been vacant since being built in 2007, Neil Huston & Associates Architects Inc., Deschutes River Montessori School and Silipint.

Fredland believes the services and unique environment that the Old Mill District provides is another reason their leasing spaces are full. These attractions range from the Orvis 18 hole casting course, the first of its kind in the country, bird watching, with a bird list and binoculars available from the Central Oregon’s Visitors Association or the Ticket Mill, bike rentals available from Wheel Fun Rentals, Wanderlust Tour’s urban GPS tour and their future zip line, kayak and stand up paddle board rentals from Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe and sand volleyball courts. 
Hosting over 60 events a year and added to the appeal is the Les Schwab Amphitheater with the summer attraction line up that includes the St Charles Free Summer Sundays and the ticketed concerts at the Les Schwab Amphitheater. The ticketed line-up includes Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, WEEN, Dierks Bentley, Alison Krauss & Union Station and Pink Martini with three more shows due to be announced shortly. There are many ways the local residents and tourists can fit activities at the Old Mill District into their lives and the tenants have been recognizing this value in choosing to move their businesses to the property Fredland noted.

Developer and owner Bill Smith of William Smith Properties comments, “The Old Mill District is a desirable place.  So we get lots of inquiries.  We have been successful at staying nearly full; but not at the rental rates we enjoyed a couple of years ago.  Now the economy shows signs of being at the bottom and more people are looking; including national tenants, all with more confidence about the future.  We will get our share of the new lookers just because of where we are.  Kinda sounds like easy money huh?  It is not.  It is lots of work.”

The hard work is apparent in the district’s goal of always striving to significantly raise the bar on what they offer, how the property looks and how they take care of the tenant. “We carefully weigh the benefits of each tenant to make sure it fits with Bend and it fits the community and the tenants that we already have.  I think we are very careful in selecting tenants,” states Fredland. “We look for feedback frequently from the tenants and we keep an open door policy.”

The leasing office holds manager meetings on a monthly basis that highlights promotional opportunities, events and things in the community that they can get involved with. The office takes many opportunities to work with the community from the events that they host, the popular pint glass promotion, installation of holiday decorations, banner promotion and maintenance upkeep on the property. The Old Mill does a lot of social media marketing for the tenants, and a new website that will soon be launched will allow each tenant the opportunity to have their own URL for their business.

Jamie and Ginger Aguirre, owners of Ginger’s Kitchenware, decided to make the move to the Old Mill District from their current Newport Avenue location to expand their already successful retail operation. Both parties came to the conclusion that the partnership would be mutually beneficial and the new space would provide Ginger’s Kitchenware with the opportunity to provide a test-kitchen area and host cooking classes with several nationally known chefs.

Jamie Aguirre added, “I think that their proposal to us says that they [the Old Mill]are community partners and they are interested in local business’s success. There are some nationally known anchors down here but they have made a concerted effort to provide local businesses with the opportunity to operate in the Old Mill environment and to give a broader dynamic of what is happening so it doesn’t look like every other shopping center.”

You can visit the Old Mill at 520 SW Powerhouse Drive or contact the leasing office at www.theoldmill.com or 541-312-0131.


About Author

Renee is the Art Director for Cascade Publications, and Editor for Cascade A&E Magazine.

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