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Business booms at the crossroads

Walgreens, Wood Village Town Center sites show renewed interest, retail promise along 223rd Avenue
by: John Klicker, Walgreens plans to open its third Gresham store accompanied by a flexible-space retail complex and another building designated for industrial condominiums.

The U.S. economy may be on the sluggish side, but the intersection of 223rd Avenue and Glisan Street between Gresham and Wood Village hums with commercial promise.

A three-building complex anchored by a Walgreens on the southwest corner is slated for completion in June, while small- and larger-scale tenants are gradually consuming spaces at the Wood Village Town Center.

Walgreens will open its third Gresham location in late June, said company spokeswoman Carol Hively. The 14,800-square-foot store will employ approximately 25 people.

Walgreens will be flanked by two other buildings on the flat parcel at the bottom of the 223rd Avenue hill. One is an 8,000 square-foot retail complex and another, toward the back of the property, will feature 'industrial condominiums' geared toward small business owners interested in owning rather than leasing.

Jeff Olson, broker for Commercial Realty Advisors Northwest in Portland, said he is in negotiations with several possible tenants for the corner commercial space. He declined to name the businesses, but indicated the intersection was attracting a healthy amount of interest.

'We're in the process of trying to lease the (Walgreens) shopping center,' he said, adding that he anticipates committed tenants 'within the next couple of months.'

'Things are progressing. We're finding demand for the product.'

Olson attributes the vibrancy of the corner to the nearby anchor stores at Wood Village Town Center. Fred Meyer, Lowe's and Kohl's department stores are mainstays of the plaza, which has added smaller retailers such as Party City and Jamba Juice in recent months.

'A lot of smaller retailers follow larger anchor tenants like Fred Meyer,' Olson said. 'Those tenants help to generate traffic. I think it's a good corner for retailers.'

Gary Surgeon, Commercial Realty Advisors Northwest leasing agent for the Town Center, said the complex didn't fill in quite as fast as developers expected, but recent developments are making up for lost time. A Desert Sun Tanning franchise recently opened, and a Pollo Loco restaurant and Goodyear Tire Center are expected to emerge in upcoming weeks.

'We expected to be full at this point,' he said of the approximately nine-year-old center. He cited the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and subsequent economic slowdown as inhibiting the facility's initial momentum.

At least six more pad sites are available for development at the center, he added. Surgeon was unable to name names, but said three slots may be filled by a restaurant, fitness center and a 'financial interest.'

'We're negotiating back and forth,' he said, adding that the recent national economic slowdown has played a role in leasing sites. 'We're 50-50 at this point.'

He agreed with Jeff Olson that there is a synergy between the Wood Village Town Center and Walgreens sites that bodes well for the inter-city intersection.

'I think it's a positive, with Walgreens and the industrial condos back there,' Surgeon said. 'The activity on that corner is very positive.'