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Ace Hardware, Walgreens end era at Milltowner plaza

Cedar Mill property owner working to secure an anchor tenant


by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The Ace Hardware store in the Milltowner Shopping Center at Northwest Cornell and Saltzman roads closed at the end of May.In two or three years, the Milltowner Shopping Center at the corner of Cornell and Saltzman roads in Cedar Mill won’t likely resemble the 1960s-styled plaza that dominates the busy crossroads today.

Anchor tenants have yet to be announced for what will be a completely rebuilt shopping center, but the recent loss of mainstays Walgreens and Ace Hardware are indicative of big changes to come.

Ryan Egge, property manager for Bales Findley LLC, said the homegrown company is working to secure a new anchor tenant for the 40,000-square-foot plaza, which will be be completely torn down and redeveloped to incorporate additional land the company owns adjacent to the Ace building.

“We’re still working on nailing down an anchor tenant for the center,” he said, noting it would likely be a “daily needs” type of retail outlet. “There’s quite a bit of interest.”

Despite the imminent plans, Egge stressed the losses of Walgreens and Ace Hardware were based on individual decisions by those businesses.

“It was not a decision on our part,” he said. “We loved having them there.”

Walgreens closed earlier this year to move to a new location just up the street on Saltzman. Ace, which anchored the plaza on the Cornell Road site for 11 years, closed at the end of May.

Rodger Curtis, who managed the Ace outlet from its opening, said a steady deceleration of business led to the store’s closing.

“The reason we’re leaving is a downturn in business,” he said. “It has nothing to do with leases and that kind of thing. There is still a lot of business in the plaza here. Mike’s Auto Parts, the laundromat, Al’s Barbershop has been around forever. It’s all full except for Walgreens and us.”by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The Ace Hardware store in the Milltowner Shopping Center at Northwest Cornell and Saltzman roads closed at the end of May. Property owner Bales Findley LLC plans to announce an anchor tenant for a completely rebuilt plaza there sometime in 2015.

While the Ace outlet had a loyal and steady customer base, competition from box stores such as the Home Depot and the smaller Orchard Hardware, which opened a year ago on Southwest Barnes Road, siphoned off just enough traffic to make owners Steve Oliver and Gary Stetcher, both Vancouver, Wash., residents, decide to call it a day.

“We have lots of loyal customers,” said Curtis, the store’s unofficial spokesman. “After awhile, you get to know people’s names, how they’re progressing with life — and also some of their household problems.”

Most of the store’s 10 employees have already picked up other jobs, he noted, from “the other Walgreens and Ace Hardwares, people in the neighborhood. Cedar Mill is a very good place to do business. There are a lot of loyal customers. It’s just that the customer count was dropping off just a little bit.”

Egge said he’d like to retain long-running tenants such as Mike’s and Al’s Barbershop, but everything depends on the anchor tenants and how they influence the size and logistics of the development.

“It’s 45,000 square feet, so we’ll see how the remaining bit of retail space shakes out,” he said. “We’ll have to assemble the big parts first, then hope the other pieces fit together.”

Curtis said he’s interviewed for a position in Gresham, where he’s lived for decades. If it comes through, he won’t miss the 30-mile daily commute.

“But I’m sorry to see us go here. There’s a lot of mixed feelings,” he said. “I’m sorry we couldn’t keep the business going. I would’ve liked that.”



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