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Troutdale seeks lender for mall right of way

Necessitated by an urban renewal property sale to Eastwind Development, the city of Troutdale is shopping for a lender to finance an access road to the Sandy River waterfront through the Columbia Gorge Premium Outlets shopping center.

While the condemnation process is underway to gain the right of way, city staff have searched for potential funding streams.

As part of the property sale, Troutdale is responsible for creating better access to the urban renewal site, plans for which include a hotel, convention center and a potential combined retail and recreation area.

When the property was sold for $1.5 million in February, the City Council had mentioned the potential use of Tax Increment Financing — federal subsidy financing used for redevelopment — but other options also are being explored, noted City Manager Craig Ward.

The first is through Business Oregon Infrastructure Finance Authority’s special public works fund. Typically used for water, sewer, storm water or transportation infrastructure projects, the fund aims to support economic and community development. The second option involves the Oregon Department of Transportation’s infrastructure bank, which provides a funding stream for transportation projects only.

Matthew Harris, Oregon Department of Transportation senior financial analyst, said the infrastructure bank loan, like the city’s publicly funding projects, requires council approval. But the loan also has a unique safety net built in. If the payments weren’t being made, ODOT could divert state gas taxes intended for the agency.

“The IFA and OTIB programs have similarities and differences in program details, but both provide long-term financing at favorable interest rates,” Ward said. “Both programs appear to be potential funding sources for our street project.”

While no applications have been submitted, ODOT and IFA confirmed they’ve been talking with Troutdale about the potential.

“The city is preparing to submit these ‘pre-application’ forms for the project in the next few weeks,” Ward noted. “After the staff at each program reviews the initial project, they then work with applicants as the formal application is prepared. It is a multi-month process for each stage.”

Ward added that the city is also exploring funding from either Metro regional government or the state to pay for a city trail accessing the Sandy Riverfront, as outlined in the urban renewal plan.

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