Eighteen take tour of Madras

by: Photo By Holly M. Gill - Madras city officials Mike Morgan, left, Mayor Rick Allen (left of center), and Chamber Director Parrish Van Wert, second from right, were on hand to answer questions from prospective developers as the group toured Madras. Above, the group stopped to view the Strawberry Heights project and the east Madras hillsides, targeted for development.

   Over 30 potential developers -- most from Oregon and Washington -- have expressed an interest in a planned community on the east side of Madras on land owned by the city of Madras and the Bean Foundation.
   On Tuesday, Nov. 30, 18 of those prospective developers participated in a community orientation and project walk-through.
   Earlier this month, the city advertised in national and regional publications to solicit requests for qualifications (RFQs) from developers in hopes of finding the most qualified developer for the project.
   "I think if we get five legitimate responses, it will be phenomenal because it's such a big project," said Mike Morgan, Madras city administrator. "There are only so many firms big enough to compete for the project."
   The project is an 820-acre master-planned community, which will be developed over the next 10 to 15 years on the east side of Madras.
   The city owns 620 acres, which it purchased in 2003 in anticipation of construction of the Oregon Department of Correction's proposed prison, which will be located several miles east of Madras on Ashwood Road.
   Part of the land will be used for open spaces -- such as a golf course, parks, and trails -- to disperse the city's treated wastewater. The effluent is expected to increase significantly when the 1,240-bed medium security, and 864-bed minimum security facility is built.
   The Bean Foundation owns another 200 acres, south and east of the Jefferson County Middle School, which will be developed along with the city's land. The planned community will include about 1,700 homes, ranging from affordable housing to custom homes, single units to multi-family units, in addition to a commercial area and open spaces.
   When the city sells its property, proceeds will repay the sewer fund's investment, and pay for other improvements. The Bean Foundation will use proceeds to supplement its endowment, and support other community programs and projects.
   Although the city has received inquiries from over 30 firms, "The real test is how many submit statements of qualifications, due Dec. 20," said Morgan. "It's not an inexpensive process."
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