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Chamber will move out of downtown core

Citing a need for increased space, Chamber plans to move offices and visitor center into building at 2119 Portland Road


The Chehalem Valley Chamber of Commerce will move its offices and city’s visitor center out of the downtown area this fall, relocating to a new home at 2119 Portland Road.

Its new location is in a building also housing Tan Republic, Newberg Tax Service and adjacent to Everybody’s Food Market.

The new space is two stories and is larger than the Chamber’s current home at 115 N. College St., which was part of the impetus for the move.

“We realized we need more space,” Executive Director Sheryl Kelsh said.

The Chamber has added several new positions in recent months and without doing some significant and expensive remodeling space is becoming too tight in its current home, Kelsh said.

“It was really a financial decision,” she said.

It’s not the first time the Chamber has found new lodgings. It’s been in the Hancock Street building for five years since moving out of the Black Box Theater space at the Chehalem Cultural Center. Before that location the Chamber was housed in the building now home to Recipe: A Neighborhood Kitchen.

“We’ve sort of moved around here and there,” Kelsh said.

However, this is the first time the Chamber will move out of the downtown area, but Kelsh said she does not predict that will impact operations.

“My biggest issue was making sure we had good access from Highway 99, and we maintained that,” she said, but added that the Chamber will miss being part of the downtown core.

Kelsh publicly informed the City Council of the upcoming relocation at last week’s meeting, explaining that it was not a move the Chamber wanted to make, but that it was driven by finances.

“Based on the renegotiation of our five-year contract we could not afford to stay in the space based on the stipulations of my landlord,” Kelsh told the council, adding that the landlord for the new location will be paying for a lot of necessary improvements to accommodate the Chamber. She said the Chamber board felt it was making a “fiscally responsible” decision in voting to relocate.

Contacted later, Sally Dallas, the Chamber’s current landlord, declined to speak in detail on the specifics of the negotiations.

“We negotiated, the negotiations didn’t work, and they made the decision to move on,” she said.

After the council meeting Councilor Stephen McKinney noted that the Chamber has been a good partner with the city, but he said he wished there had been more consultation between the Chamber board and city officials before the decision was made, given the city’s annual $137,000 funding of the visitor center. He said he would rather have the Chamber located in the downtown area closer to the city center.

“I think that had a more productive conversation taken place, a place closer to the (downtown) core could have been secured,” he said. “But that’s all speculation at this point.”

The move will take place during the weekend of Oct. 1. Kelsh estimated all the moving would happen over the weekend and that there would not be any downtime in operations. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place as soon as the new location is open for business, she said.