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Meadows developers can dream bigger

• Adding acres to urban renewal area provides more incentive to break ground

To fuel redevelopment of nearly 200 acres at Hayden Meadows, the Portland Development Commission plans to add 34 acres north and west of the Portland Meadows racetrack to its Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area.

As it now stands, about two-thirds of the site off Interstate 5 Ñ one of the city's largest developable parcels once the horse racing stops in 2004 Ñ falls in the urban renewal area.

With the change, 90 percent of the Hayden Meadows property will be part of the urban renewal area.

'This is in anticipation of what will happen,' said PDC project manager John Southgate. 'This is the acreage most likely to be developed in the near term. If we want to participate in public coordination of what might happen on the property, these are the most critical acres.'

PDC's action will allow for owner Tom Moyer and his 10 partners to qualify for loans and grants from the urban renewal agency. Given the current financial constraints on PDC, however, significant assistance probably is unlikely, Southgate said.

The extended urban renewal area includes 17 parcels of existing retail and commercial office buildings, notably the Wickes Furniture, Petco and G.I. Joe's stores. The now empty Builders Square already is slated for a new Fry's Electronics store.

Those properties are 'underutilized,' Southgate said.

'I don't want to alarm anyone,' he said. 'It's not like tomorrow bulldozers would come. It represents opportunity for redevelopment.'

No ballfield or sports complex

During the past two years, Moyer has been exploring a mix of office, retail, hotel and, to a lesser degree, housing, said his attorney, Steven Pfeiffer of Perkins Coie. The most likely development scenario, he said, calls for 40 acres of retail, 40 acres of office and 40 acres of industrial, which would allow for a variety of uses. Retail stores would be built in Phase 1, and the rest would be built over the course of seven years.

The plan also would require a zoning change, since much of the acreage for the Hayden Meadows property is zoned industrial.

Moyer, however, still must win approval from several dissident partners before he can move ahead with the plan, Pfeiffer said. Otherwise, the horses may continue to run at Portland Meadows for another six years. Magna Entertainment Corp. has a contract with Moyer to continue horse racing there until 2004, when it intends to build a track elsewhere.

A couple of the property owners are balking at the redevelopment plans, Pfeiffer said, but he wouldn't disclose who they are. At least two of the partners, Donna Jensen and First Independent Bank of Vancouver, support Moyer's plans.

Moyer 'would be willing to go forward if there was an agreement among the partners,' Pfeiffer said. 'This has been something he's interested in. Decision making is very much on their side, and frankly they are doing nothing. The property owners are clearly running out of gas and interest in the redevelopment scenario. The risk we run is it will fall into the old historical mode of horse racing.'

Moyer, as managing partner, would put up the seed money, and his partners would share in the benefits. Pfeiffer estimated it would cost $20 million for initial study and infrastructure plans. There is no master plan yet, he said.

There already have been discussions with potential lenders and tenants, said Bill Love, an attorney at Schwabe Williamson Wyatt who represents Jensen.

Pfeiffer said they've looked at public facilities, such as a large TriMet bus facility on the site but rejected the idea of a major league baseball park or other sports facility out of hand.

'It has never hit our screen,' he said. 'No one would bank on a ballfield or sports complex because it is so complex and risky.'

Looking out for jobs

The region's pronounced shortage of industrial land has elevated the level of interest in the Moyer group's plan and also heightened concerns about the potential loss of industrial land within the Hayden Meadows property.

In the past decade the total number of jobs in the Interstate Corridor area Ñ one of the city's largest at 3,710 acres Ñ has declined.

'The concern is this site represents industrial jobs,' Southgate said. 'If it were rezoned, you'd lose that. This also represents a great opportunity.'

Pfeiffer said the Moyer group is not willing to wait for a major manufacturing company to come along before launching its project.

Contact Kristina Brenneman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..