Portland developers say theyre committed to renovating Sherwood's old Cannery site

Capstone Partners starts process of revamping vacant, 6-acre parcel in downtown Sherwood

The biggest blank slate in Old Town Sherwood is on its way to redevelopment.

Five months after unveiling preliminary sketches for the old Cannery site, the Portland development group Capstone Partners has entered into an agreement with Sherwood's Urban Renewal Agency to develop the vacant 6-acre parcel Sherwood leaders have called the city's "most important development.'

Principals from Capstone, as well as architects from Ankrom Moisan met with the URA Board of Directors April 15 to outline their hopes for the old Cannery site.

'We're excited to be here,' said Chris Nelson, managing principal of Capstone Partners. 'Every time we get in the car to come out here, we like it more and more … the first time we came here we looked around the town and were impressed with how clean and neat the town is.'

Nelson said his firm wants to 'take what's already a great little downtown and make it better.'

The Cannery site is smaller than most of the projects Capstone Partners tackles, but Nelson said Sherwood's demographics are good enough to warrant such a development.

'This is just the beginning of the process,' added Capstone's founder Jeff Sackett. 'We're very excited about this, about the property, about the city and about everybody on the team.'

The development group brought sketches of their other projects to the URA Board meeting on April 15 and showed a very preliminary design of what the Cannery property might someday look like. The group's ideas include retail space, offices, housing units and some sort of public space where Sherwood residents might someday hold their annual holiday tree lighting ceremony or farmers' market.

'When that conceptual drawing came out in the Gazette, people were really excited,' said Sherwood City Councilor and URA Board member Linda Henderson. 'It showed people that we want to take advantage of the site, that we'll have another special place to go for celebrations.'

The signing of the MOU is just the first step toward redeveloping the Cannery, which is now owned by the city's Urban Renewal Agency. The next step would be for the URA Board and Capstone to sign a development agreement, further fleshing out the development process, price and timeline.

'Capstone has been very good to work with,' said Tom Nelson, Sherwood's economic development director. 'They are very interested in being here for the long run. They're not going to come in and build something and leave … they want to maintain the character of Sherwood's Old Town.'

The first part of the development - most likely the retail component - could be started as early as July of 2009, Nelson said. The developers have said they want to include a housing component in the development. Depending on market conditions, those housing units could be owner-occupied condominiums or upscale rentals.

'They were seeing that there is a demand for upscale rental housing here,' Nelson said. 'Then, in the future, those units could turn into a condo situation.'

This is something that other mixed-use developments in the Portland metro area have experimented with, including the massive Gresham Station development in East Multnomah County, which includes retail shops, offices, restaurants, a large medical complex, owner-occupied housing and upscale rental units.

Whatever Capstone Partners comes back with, it's sure to compliment Sherwood's history and character, said Scott Wagner, an architect with Ankrom Moisan, the Portland architecture firm Capstone is working with on this project.

'We wanted to be students of Sherwood and learn as much as we could about where this city came from … to take the history that's real and do something that fits (with that history) but also buildings the future in something great,' Wagner said.

The architects have been talking to Sherwood residents - and plan to do much more in the way of community outreach - to better understand what it is that Old Town Sherwood needs in the way of new development.

'We would like this to be an interactive process … and the best ideas will rise to the top,' Wagner said.

City Councilor and URA Board member Dave Heironimus, who has sat in on the meetings with Capstone Partners, said the Portland developers are a good fit with Sherwood.

'They've impressed me with their knowledge of Sherwood,' Heironimus said. 'Starting from day one they really impressed a lot of us. I knew then that it was a really good match.'

Nelson said that, assuming the development continues as expected, the URA Board would sell portions of the property to Capstone as they develop.

'The goal is to be under construction by July '09,' Nelson said.