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Longtime vehicle sales lot to become George Fox University parking lot, food cart pod

Passersby may have noticed that the Newberg Park & Sell has substantially fewer parked cars lately than it had just weeks ago.

That's because the business is "no more, temporarily" making way for new uses of the two lots at the eastern edge of Newberg's downtown, according to business owner Ila Wardin. GARY ALLEN - The longtime Newberg Park & Sell in downtown Newberg has effectively closed down after 26 years.The larger part between First and Hancock streets will soon become a parking lot for George Fox University students while the parking lot on the southwest corner of First and Center streets is being converted into a food pod for eight food trucks.

"The good Lord just came in the nick of time and made two offers we couldn't refuse," Wardin said.

She declined a longer interview, but briefly said Newberg Park & Sell has been around for about 26 years, replacing the Newberg Ford dealership that had burned down previously.

One of those offers came from George Fox University, which will be leasing the larger lot at 915 E. First St. — where Highway 99W splits into First and Hancock streets — GFU spokesman Rob Felton confirmed in an email.

He said the university is looking to use that area as a student parking lot for the next school year.

He noted that the university is working with the city over the summer to make improvements to the lot, but he did not have further details by press time Tuesday morning.

City Development Director Doug Rux said in an email that preliminary discussions have been focused on the university adding fencing, signs and patching asphalt, but he noted that the project will become clearer as discussions continue.

The other offer to Wardin was for a lot just south at 910 E. First St., where two food carts have taken up residence: Bangkok Noi Thai and Wiki Wiki Weenie. A sign nearby states the name of the food cart pod as "Bite of Newberg."

Rick Condon, who owns Bite of Newberg, explained that his wife started Bangkok Noi Thai about a month ago and they've been searching for a place to set up shop in Newberg, where they live, with all of the utilities required to "do it right."

"So I just thought, 'you know, I'll just find a space and kind of make a pod myself and do things the right way and provide it for other people," he said. "This is something Newberg could use."

Eventually, he said there will be eight food carts in the pod and he already has plans to bring in a taco truck, a fruit and salad vendor, and a creperie.

He noted that he will be encouraging all food carts to use local vendors and services.

"That's kind of what our theme is … to help support the local community," he said. "Therefore everything is made fresh, we buy it from the local community, we get it from local markets."

W. Russell Bird, owner of Wiki Wiki Weenie, said he has been on the location for about three weeks, though the Dundee resident has been dishing out primarily Hawaiian-themed hot dogs at local events and GFU sports events for about two years. He said "wiki" means "fast" in Hawaii.

Noting how he's been looking for a place to set up his heavily-modified 1950 Dodge Wayfarer on a more permanent basis, he said he learned about plans for a new food truck pod and "came chasing" down the owner of Bangkok Noi Thai, who he said is managing those plans.

"We're deciding if it's a good location… for hot dogs. I think it's going to be a great location for a food pod," he said, sporting a blue Hawaiian shirt while serving a family of four on July 14.

Bangkok Noi Thai took last week off due to generator problems and Condon couldn't predict when the full food pod would be up and running.

For now, he's waiting on a city permit before ripping up the lot to bring water, sewer and power utilities to the area, along with a grease trap and trash disposal. He noted that any food vendor who signs on to the site would be required to do their share in keeping it clean.

"It's going to be a nice place, and right now we're just getting started," Condon said.

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