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Comfort food, not strippers, planned for Kraven site

Demolition has begun on former sports bar building, resurecting rumors that Jiggles was headed to Wilsonville


by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The former Kravens Sports Bar at the corner of Wilsonville Road and Town Center Loop West has been the subject of rumors for close to two years now. But recent activity suggests the site may soon be the new home of a pair of fast food restaurants.Two years ago a Wilsonville sports bar went belly up, sparking questions about what would replace it. Now, an answer to those questions may be at hand.

Instead of a notorious strip club, however, all signs are pointing to the coming addition of a pair of “comfort food” restaurants at the corner of one of Wilsonville’s most visible intersections.

The former Kraven’s sports bar at the corner of Southwest Wilsonville Road and Town Center Loop West opened in 2008, but never really seemed to generate that much momentum. It was no big surprise when the business suddenly shut its doors in 2012 following a business dispute between the managing partners.

In its wake came a flood of rumors over what would fill one of the city’s prime business locations. There was one rumored Kraven replacement that locals kept talking about: Jiggles, the Tualatin strip club that closed late last month after its lease ran out.

Wilsonville officials said they have fielded inquiries about this rumor from countless residents over the past 18 months. And until now, said city Planning Director Chris Neamtzu, the city has had as little information as anyone else.

A few weeks ago, however, demolition work on the Kraven building’s interior was started by property owner Sonnen Properties, LLC. Right around the same time, it was announced that Jiggles’ long-standing lease on premises overlooking the Nyberg Road exit off Interstate 5 would be expiring at the end of June.

It was, said Neamtzu, the perfect combination for setting loose a stream of new rumors about where Jiggles’ owner Jane Coppedge might relocate. But now, following a confidential pre-application meeting with a team of architects a month ago, city officials are increasingly confident about the future of the building, which was built in 1983.

“You never want to say never,” Neamtzu said Friday. “But this is looking really positive.”

City records indicate Perlo Construction of Portland was issued a city demolition permit June 17 for an estimated $20,000 worth of work. Meanwhile, Portland development company Cardno also has submitted to the city a tentative site plan showing the configuration of the two new proposed restaurants, each of which would have a footprint of just over 2,400 square feet.

“They have a demolition permit through the building division,” Wilsonville Manager of Current Planning Blaise Edmonds said. “They’re gutting it out internally. Our staff had a pre-application meeting over a month ago, and what was disclosed to us is there are going to be two franchised, comfort food-style restaurants.”

According to both Neamtzu and Edmonds, the architects from Cardno requested that the names of both possible restaurants be kept confidential pending a formal application. That, both men said, could come as early as this week.

“They told me by Tuesday of next week they were going to submit plans for an actual application,” Edmonds said.

Once that takes place an architectural review will be held at a public hearing in front of the city’s development review board. After that, there should be little else standing in the way of the two proposed restaurants.

“The plans we saw are a complete facelift and remodel of the exterior of the building and orienting the two restaurants to the west,” Edmonds said. “The entrances will be to the west, and the façade, the metal would come off. They got into a lot of conceptual architectural design, so it’s very promising that that’s what they’re going to follow through with.”

While the names of the proposed restaurants are still confidential, Neamtzu described them as a “south of the border type of chain” and “an Asian type of chain.”

“It looks like they would split the building into two spaces, one for each of these chains,” he said. “They are national chains and they are in the Portland market, at least one of them is. It’s very positive, our interactions with them.”

That aside, Oregon law likely would protect Coppedge should she decide to move Jiggles to Wilsonville or any other metro area city. The state has a notably more liberal interpretation of free speech than many others, and municipalities have found it virtually impossible through the years to prohibit strip clubs and other businesses that involve nudity.

Article 1, Section 8 of the Oregon Constitution forbids laws “restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write or print freely on any subject, whatever.” This is a broader protection of speech than the U.S. Constitution provides, and has been bolstered through the years by a string of Oregon Supreme Court decisions protecting nudity as free speech.

“The state law is pretty liberal in its interpretation of free speech,” Edmonds said. “I don’t think it (Jiggles) could be prohibited, no.”