Safari Club building demolished
Little is left of the former Safari Club building.
Demolition on the building at 116 S.E. Fourth Ave., which has been empty since 2013, began several weeks ago to make way for a new Dollar General store.
"I struggle to say it's rewarding to see the bulldozers come," said Matt Lorenzen, economic development manager for the city of Estacada. "But it's nice to see folks investing in our downtown, and see people from outside of our community say 'Oh, this is an opportunity in Estacada."
A Dollar General store, the Tennessee-based retailer's first location in Clackamas County, is scheduled to open at the site this fall.
Phil Bramson of Embree Asset Group, Dollar General's real estate company, said the demolition and off-site improvements such as a parking lot are planned to be complete in time for the city's summer events, such as Estacada Uncorked and the Estacada Summer Celebration.
Though the Safari Club building was privately owned, city leaders worked with representatives from Dollar General and Embree Asset Group to ensure the new building met the city's downtown design guidelines.
Typically, transparent windows are required on buildings on Fourth and Broadway Streets in downtown Estacada, but the retailer applied for a variance to allow for interior shelving where windows would normally be.
In order to create a pedestrian-friendly building without windows, the store's exterior will feature display cases on the side of the building that fronts Broadway Street and space for The Artback to create murals on the side of the building that fronts Fourth Avenue.
"It took some brainstorming to figure it out," Lorenzen said, discussing the design process. "We still have a pedestrian oriented (building), but this will allow (Dollar General) to put merchandise on the opposite side of the wall."
The murals, which will be painted next summer, will focus on different elements of the city's annual Summer Celebration and Artback's annual mural project. One panel will highlight all of the festival's activities on Broadway Street. Another panel will depict people dancing in front of the music stage and a third, will show Artback members painting murals.
Artback member Nolene Triska is excited about the project and believes it's valuable to highlight the city's identity as an arts hub.
"We realized we hadn't done a Summer Celebration mural, and it seemed like a great idea," she said. "Summer Celebration is an important festival for Estacada. (The project) will showcase part of what our town is about, like all of our murals do."
She noted that this is the first time The Artback has highlighted their own work in a mural.
"It's very self-reflective," she added.
Lorenzen thinks the mural project is a nod the city's important characteristics.
"The murals downtown are an important part of the arts community and Estacada's identity," he said.
To complement the new Dollar General building, updated parking lots for both the store and Estacada City Hall are in the works. A section of City Hall's parking lot has been reconfigured to be at the front of the building on Main Street, which was formerly a grassy area. The lawn on the other half of City Hall remains.
To facilitate necessary parking requirements for both City Hall and the new store, the Estacada City Council approved a lot line adjustment in March 2016. The number of parking spaces at City Hall remains the same, but the size of the property has been reduced by approximately 7,560-square-feet.
Estacada City Manager Denise Carey noted that no money was exchanged between the city and Dollar General, though the retailer will be financially responsible for the remodel and maintenance of the city's new parking lot.
Carey noted that Dollar General's remodel and maintenance of the parking lot will be a boon to the city. During the City Council's initial discussion of the lot line adjustment, the improvements were estimated to be greater than $50,000.
Though Lorenzen noted that "local ownership is the best as far as community returns go," he believes Dollar General "has been community minded in their approach to development." For example, the retailer paid to have a crane brought in to save the iconic Safari Club sign.
Lorenzen noted multiple other positive elements of the new development.
"This is the first redevelopment project we've had in downtown in a long time," he said. "It's a signal to the development community that this is a place where they can invest.
He also believes a new building in downtown Estacada will be valuable in drawing visitors to Estacada.
"It will be an attractive building visible from the highway," he said. "Hopefully that will encourage more people to pull off and shop. If they are stopping at Dollar General, hopefully that means they continue on down Broadway and see other things downtown has to offer."