City ponders buying downtown businesses
Main Street redevelopment could pave way for public plaza, restaurants
The city of Tigard is in talks to purchase a building on Main Street. City officials say the plan is to redevelop the site as part of ongoing efforts to bring new life to the troubled downtown.
The site at 12537Â S.W. Main St. is home to Hiller's Emblem Shop. The custom screen-printing shop is one of three connected buildings that could become city-owned property early next year if talks move forward as planned.
The building is flanked by Oregon Drive Axle Supply and a vacant warehouse used for storage, which stretches out over Fanno Creek.
Over the next few years, the city hopes to transform the site into a public plaza complete with retail spaces and restaurants.
Sean Farrelly, the citys downtown redevelopment project manager, said the city was currently performing due diligence on the properties and was still appraising their value. The city has a purchase and sale agreement with the buildings owner.
Its not a done deal, yet, Farrelly said. But we hope it will go through.
Tigard city councilor and mayoral candidate Nick Wilson has been touting the citys plans for the property as one of his goals to bring new businesses downtown over the next few years.
Wilson, a landscape architect on Main Street, briefly discussed the purchase during Monday nights Chamber of Commerce debate against candidate John L. Cook.
Wilson said the paperwork should be signed by Jan. 5.
Part of larger plan for downtown
Farrelly said redeveloping the site will help activate the downtown.
Its one of several projects the city has in the works for the downtown area, which has struggled for decades.
Next summer, the city plans major construction for the street, widening sidewalks and making it friendlier to pedestrians. Plans to install public art displays along the sidewalk are also in the works. The city is considering applications now for two, large sculptures that will be installed at the connecting points of Main Street and Pacific Highway.
The city already owns several properties downtown, including a house on the corner of Southwest Burnham Road and Ash Avenue and properties at Burnham and Main streets, which are slated to become a new parking lot.
Plans for exactly what will happen with the buildings which include 12533, 12535 and 12537 S.W. Main St. are still under consideration, Farrelly said. However, their proximity to Fanno Creek makes them an attractive find for the city, he added.
The city has discussed the possibility of installing a public plaza in the downtown area for years, but hasnt found a site for it.
Farrelly said the property may not be the site for the main plaza, but has the potential to become a smaller public space overlooking the creek.
There will most likely be some combination of public space and private development, Farrelly said, adding that the city would work with the current businesses to relocate.
We are look into preserving some structures or reusing them, Farrelly said. But we dont know the quality of the buildings, yet.
If the city purchases the buildings, Farrelly said, no new development would happen for at least a year or 18 months.
'It needs fresh businesses'
Hillers general manager, Nancy Gaylor, has worked at the shop for 22 years. She was unaware the city was interested in purchasing the properties.
That would explain why a bunch of people were inspecting the building near the creek the other day, Gaylor said. I spotted them the other day and wondered why someone was inspecting them.
Hillers has been at the site on Main Street since 1996. Gaylor said the downtown is badly in need of redevelopment.
It needs a lot of help, Gaylor said, particularly at the south end of the street, where the shop is located.
Gaylor wasnt upset the city might displace her business, saying the city was doing its best to revitalize downtown.
Anything that they can drum in would be nice and attract some people, she said.
Gaylor said downtown needs more local hot spots to attract customers, such as restaurants and coffee shops.
It needs fresh businesses that will draw people down here, she said. We have lost a lot of businesses.
If the city does purchase the building, Gaylor isnt sure where the business will go.
We have always been in Tigard, she said. We would need to find some place with equally inexpensive rent, and thats not an easy thing to do. We like our location.
Several of the businesses downtown have closed their doors in recent years, including the once-popular A-Boy plumbing store across the street, which went out of business earlier this year.
If they displace us, maybe the city can buy that building and put us in there, she said.