Apr 22, 2008

Troutdale Urban Renewal: More Questions Than Answers

After the withdrawal of the two developers (Williams & Dame, CenterCal) who responded to Troutdale's urban renewal request for qualifications (RFQ), many people have called me with one question: what happened? The only verifiable information I have is from recent staff reports for the upcoming Urban Renewal Agency meeting tomorrow night.

I have talked to city staff, reporters, local developers and various Troutdale residents. Speculation, rumor, and finger pointing are flying back and forth. This kind of attitude won't help. I recommend that everyone take a deep breath. This is not the end of the world.

There is one difficult issue staring the city in the face- its option to purchase a "hole" through the Columbia Gorge Premium Outlet Mall in order to gain access to the urban renewal site from 257th Ave. We must exercise this option by the end of the year or we forfeit our option payment.

In October 2007, the Troutdale City Council approved an agreement to purchase 24,000 square feet, including a right of way through the outlet mall. This purchase includes 6400 square feet of existing retail space. The city made an initial payment of $300,000 to secure an option to purchase the land by December 31, 2008. Total price: $2.1 million . If the city fails to exercise the option, it loses the $300,000 initial payment.

At the time, we thought 15 months would be plenty of time to secure a developer. However, with last week's withdrawal of the two developers who responded to the city's RFQ, there now seems little chance for a land sale of the urban renewal property by the end of the year. There is no question in my mind--we need access to the urban renewal site one way or another, so we will need to exercise the option. I don't want to see $300,000 in taxpayer money go up in smoke with nothing to show for it.

City staff is now working on other options, which may or may not include:
  • Reissuing the request for qualifications
  • Listing the urban renewal property with a commercial broker
  • Pursuing a destination retailer on our own without going through a developer or a commercial broker
  • Doing nothing- take the entire project off the market for an undetermined time period
You can't count on any deal until that first shovel of dirt is turned. We'll get there with our urban renewal project. It is just going to take a little longer.

Stay tuned.

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