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Architects draw plans

Second phase of revitalization gets under way

by: Photo By Holly M. Gill - The Oscar's building underwent a major renovation in 2004.


   The first phase of Madras' downtown revitalization project is only one-third complete, but that hasn't stopped the Madras Redevelopment Commission (MRC) from preparing for the next phase.
   Portland Architect Michelle Fickeisen of Hennebery Eddy Architects, and intern architect Emily Duchek spent several days recently working out of the Madras City Hall doing conceptual designs for facelifts for several local businesses that applied to be part of the second phase of downtown revitalization.
   The Madras Coffee Station, which has nearly finished its renovation, and the World of Treasures and the Art Adventure Gallery, which will begin their renovations in the spring, were the first three businesses to apply to, and be accepted by, the MRC for inclusion in the first phase.
   The next phase will include the Sheldon Arnett building, which houses the Shoe Repair shop and The Cable Man; Madras Bowl, Great Earth, and Ralph's TV.
   Fickeisen and Duchek will bring the completed drawings, as well as cost estimates for the renovations, back to the MRC Jan. 18 and 19.
   "If everybody's happy -- they like the design and are OK with the cost -- they will hire us to do the construction documents," said Fickeisen. Construction documents might take anywhere from four to 10 weeks, depending on the complexity of the project.
   After the business has the construction documents, it can proceed with bids from contractors.
   "I would like to see Madras Bowl and Sheldon Arnett done by the end of spring, so in summertime, people coming through town will see changes," she added. "We like to work with a certain sense of urgency."
   Several businesses, including Willow Creek Books, Reynoso Jewelry, and Madras Vision Center, have sent letters of interest to be part of the third phase, which will begin later this year.
   Businesses selected for revitalization are eligible for up to $10,000 in grant money, and a $15,000 low-interest loan.
   The renovations to the exteriors of the businesses are partly funded by monies collected from the Madras Urban Renewal District -- one of about 75 such districts in the state -- which was created by the city of Madras in 2002 to fund downtown revitalization.
   During its first year, the district collected $170,000 -- only a small portion of the $14 million that the will be collected over the life of the district.
   Each of the local taxing districts, such as Jefferson County School District 509-J, the city of Madras, the Mountain View Hospital District, and the county, contributes a small percentage to the district.
   In late December, the MRC voted to obtain a $1.8 million line of credit to make it easier to proceed with the revitalization projects, Mayor Rick Allen said.
   "There seems to be renewed interest in renovation," Allen said. "As land value goes up, it becomes economical to renovate an older building."
   Over the past year, some local business owners financed their own renovations (as outlined in last week's Pioneer), including Dr. Wayne Schultz, who remodeled his dental office; Peggy Boyle and daughter Jennifer Oppenlander, who remodeled a house and turned it into Raining Fresh Daisies, a scrapbooking store; and Janet Henderson, who also remodeled a historic home into Buttons and Bolts, a sewing supply store.
   - One of the most elaborate business renovations was the transformation of the Oscar's building, owned by Allen, which houses Mail, Copies and More, Check Express, Willow Canyon Properties, and space for Radio Shack on the north end of the building.
   "It's 95 percent new," said Allen. "We added 2,000 square feet," as well as a new facade in the front and back, and room for Allen's office and a conference room.
   - After extensive renovation of the former Coast-to-Coast Hardware store, Bob Magid of Lake Oswego, owner and president of the Modish Corporation, opened Aaron's in early February. Aaron's carries furniture, televisions, appliances, and computers, all available on a lease-to-own basis.
   - In April, Magid opened Outdoor World on 97 in the remodeled space on the south end of the former Coast-to-Coast building. Outdoor World features spas, outdoor furniture, barbecues, and lawn and garden tractors.
   The remodel and expansion of Madras High School and Buff Elementary also had a big impact on the community this year.
   - School District 509-J nearly completed a $15.8 million remodel and expansion at Madras High School and Buff Elementary School. Madras High School was expanded from 113,484 square feet to 163,990 square feet, and 34,336 square feet of the existing space was remodeled. Project Manager Mike Marino said that because $1.5 million in savings was realized on the project, that money will be used to remodel the library, add additional classroom space on the upper deck of the gymnasium, and redo all the utility services at Buff. Those projects are expected to be completed in February.
   - The Buff project added 10,804 square feet of new space to the 26,378 square feet of existing space at that school. A total of 16,514 square feet of the existing space was remodeled. Buff Elementary should also be finished in February, Marino said.
   "It's edging into what's to come," said Madras Community Development Department Director Carol Parker. "It's not going to be at a slow pace like it has been. The further we go into the (new) year, it's going to be building momentum toward development and expansion."