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OC sees opportunity in selling parking lot

Behind the McDonald’s on a busy stretch of McLoughlin Boulevard in downtown Oregon City, there’s a lot of potential — a parking lot of potential that is.

As part of Oregon City’s “Land of Opportunity” campaign, city commissioners have authorized putting a city-owned, 2.2-acre lot on the market. Clackamas County has assessed the area at slightly more than $1 million and estimates its market value at about $1.4 million, but the city has no asking price.

“It’s perfect for its mixed-use zoning, and we hope a developer will be able to create jobs and really take advantage of the river view,” said Eric Underwood, economic development manager for Oregon City.

However, former Oregon City mayors worried about another type of potential — potential for a developer to cut into overflow parking for fishermen, other Clackamette Park users, and the annual Pioneer Family Festival.

“This piece of property is used continually by our community members,” Ed Allick and Don Andersen wrote in an open letter to the city. “We are asking the Oregon City Commission to direct the city manager to stop the sale of this property. It is our request that this property be rededicated as a park for our community members.”

Underwood responded that the earliest construction would start is next summer if the city managed to sell the property this year.

Parking is “one of the many things that’s going to come up in negotiations,” along with potential tax incentives, he said. “I’m sure we would have to make accommodations with the developers for some public parking.”

Although the lot is within the downtown urban-renewal district, as a city-owned property, it ultimately would be up to the five elected city commissioners to decide whether to authorize a potential deal. Underwood promised to notify the two appointed citizen members of the seven-member Urban Renewal Commission as a courtesy before the city began negotiations.