Tag Archives: Heights

Land deal to open doors for new Heights medical clinic

18 Aug

Pending sale of 1.8 acres on the west side of 12th Street just south of Pacific Avenue will lay the groundwork for construction of a new medical office building.

Henry Fischer of Fischer Development confirmed this morning that he has reached an agreement to purchase the property from the current owner, Hood River Equities LLC, which is essentially Stephen Ford and Andy von Flotow. Ford confirmed it as well, and said closing is set for Aug. 27.

As soon as the deal seals, Fischer plans to begin site plan review with the city. Plans haven’t been completed, so he couldn’t say if the building would be one or two stories. It will have between 8,000 and 10,000 square feet of interior space, and be sited on the south side of the property, just north of the former Ford auto dealership. Fischer plans to adjust the lot line between that property and the lot just to the north, which now contains an unoccupied house, so that both parcels are about the same size. He has no immediate plans for the corner lot.

Grading work for the southern parcel could begin this fall. Fischer expects construction to start in early 2011.

Fischer has a committed tenant — a group of physicians. He and the tenant group also have had talks with adjacent Columbia Gorge Community College about possible use of the clinic after hours for classes in the college’s medical programs.

Heights Urban Renewal, Bambinos nannies, window dressing & more

4 Aug

City Manager Bob Francis rolls out plans for a Heights Urban Renewal District at 8 a.m. Thursday, inside Columbia Gorge Community College Hood River-Indian Creek Campus. …

Want a night out with the squeeze? Tired of baton-passing the kids while you share sail time? Looking for help corralling the urchins while the big folks dance the macarena at your best friend’s wedding? Get your nanny on — by hooking up with Bambinos. Seriously, proprietor Lorena Lowell tells us that the nanny service for the child care and learning center has been  a huge growth area. She’s got 65 trained nannies available to oversee on-site kid care, or work off-site — at parties, hotels, corporate events. She’s had a couple of calls from guys staying at local hotels who wanted a nanny for the entire weekend, but when the nanny arrive, there were no kids. To put the kibosh on that sort of nonsense, Bambinos now lets hotel management know that a nanny will be meeting the client family in the lobby before beginning child care. Cost is $13 an hour. Weekends are busy, so call a week ahead, at least. Out-of-towners are calling a month early.

Downtown Business Council is working to create enlarged versions of the popular Walking Map, and with support of property owners managing (currently) vacant space, place those business promotion posters in street-level windows of dark stores. Do you have a vacant building? Would you like to promote the overall business community until you have a client? Call Tracy Kaiser at 541-399-6235 …

Heard that Eclipse Music Education Center, 212 4th St., has closed its doors. Phone number is out of service. …

Volcanic Bottle Shoppe brings more beer to thirsty world

13 Jul

You may recall us tipping you off that Amanda Goeke and Abe Stevens were planning a “bottle shoppe” on the Heights — a place, in short, to buy bottled beers from around the world. After much work, they opened their Volcanic Bottle Shoppe this past weekend. They’re at 1410 12th St., just north of Shortt Supply, and open from noon to 9 p.m. They’ve also got a pretty active Facebook page, for those of you who would rather talk about beer in cyberspace than over a cold pint. FYI, it’s not just pre-bottled beer. You can bring your growler jug and they’ll top it off for subsequent consumption. Cheers.

Urban renewal — what’s in it for the Heights?

23 Jun

Great presentation Thursday, June 17, at the Heights Business Association meeting on the topic of urban renewal districts, and how one might work if the city were to adopt one for the Heights.

City Manager Bob Francis opened the presentation. Elaine Howard, a consulting partner with Tashman Johnson LLC, the city’s urban renewal consultants, expanded the topic.

An urban renewal district creates a way to share tax revenues for infrastructure improvements — things like sidewalks, streets, lights. It does that by freezing the amount of  tax revenues from the urban renewal area to the amount generated at the time the district is created.

People say the “tax base is frozen.” Actually, the tax base continues to increase in value as improvements occur and, theoretically, investors put money into new projects in urban renewal area. But the tax revenue from that “incremental” increase in value is diverted to pay back bonds sold to fund improvements.

So the simple fact is, an urban renewal district does not increase taxing authority beyond what voters have already approved. But because it diverts money from taxing districts, it requires those districts to approve creation of the urban renewal area.

“There may be opposition from our other taxing districts, because everybody is hurting for revenues,” Francis acknowledged.

Francis noted that as a result of the urban renewal district covering downtown since 1986, taxing districts have forgone about $547,000 in revenue per year. The new streets, underground utility improvements, new light poles, sidewalks and tree wells are the result of that. The district was scheduled to end in 2011, but the District had another $7.1 million in projects — improvements to State Street between 9th and 13th — so the expiration of the district was extended another 10 years.

Francis noted that the Waterfront Urban Renewal District funded odor controls at the city’s waste treatment plant, which in turn helped the Port of Hood River construct the Halyard Building on Portway, and recruit ANPC as its sole tenant.

Howard said that before an urban renewal district is created, a feasibility study looks at the target area to determine its potential for increased investment (and assessed value). If a city creates a district and overall property value stays the same, no tax increment occurs — and no way to fund improvements.

If the city of Hood River decides to move ahead and create an urban renewal district, it would form an Urban Renewal Agency with seven members. Public hearings help define the plan, which must also pass scrutiny of the Planning Commission, to make sure it complies with the city’s comprehensive plan. Throughout the process, all affected property owners are notified that a district is being considered.

District plans must clearly specify how much money will be spent, and on what. A plan also must specify its duration. Typical plans run for 20 years. After an urban renewal district expires, all revenue — including the “increment,” from what officials hope is greatly higher assessed value — is apportioned to local taxing districts.

Urban Renewal for the Heights? Learn more Thursday

17 Jun

Downtown Hood River has benefited from inclusion in an Urban Renewal District. How might the Heights benefit from the same thing? During a presentation at 8 a.m. Thursday at the Hood River-Indian Creek Campus of Columbia Gorge Community College, City Manager Bob Francis will detail how such a district would work. The event is in room 310. The graphics accompanying this blurb show the areas that might be affected … Tell me your favorite things about different Hood River merchants. I was thinking of this the other day when I picked up the NY Times at Doppio — I like the fact that they stock it — and later in the week, when I got one of the great scones that they kick out at Ground. Or walking in to Waucoma Bookstore and thinking, wow, could they cram any more inventory into this place? What a great selection for a small town. Or knowing that you can get good meat without hormone or antibiotic treatment at both Rosauers and the Farm Stand (we like the Heights for that, and more). Or that they have a really great … well, I could go on, but I want YOU to tell me (and our readers) what rocks your boat about the Hood … Tenancy takes time. Word heard is that, if all goes to plan, we may see something new in the way of a personal services business — what’s a three-letter synonym for “hot tub” that also means a place where people go to relax and be pampered? — in the main level of the former Franz Hardware-Discover Bicycles space, and someone has put forth a serious proposal to do a restaurant in the eastern half of the space formerly home to Annz Panz, which would entail a north-south split of the room. Owner North Cheatham has talked in the past of liking that idea, which would leave a retail-ready space on the Fourth Street side … The artisan bakery formerly referred to here at Etoile is now known as Knead. Apparently the partners who pulled out shortly before opening had rights to the Etoile name. By any other name, the bread would taste as good … Does little p- you off? Don’t want to sound too Pollyanna here, but I rather lose it when I see how some people treat our town. Done with a drink? Just sit it on a bench or railing and walk off. Or toss the can into the street. Litter happens, because idiots happen. But what if we didn’t let it happen? What if we picked up after the idiots? And called them on it when we see them slobbing up our place? The city has put garbage receptacles at every corner. Let’s use them and see what happens — to our town, and our heads.

No Grand Central; owners plan something very similar for Heights location

27 May

This post offers a bit of a clarification, a bit closer to the source, about plans for a new bakery on the Heights at the corner of Pine and 12th, where Ernie’s Lock & Key used to be.

Billy Sullivan is tearing down the former service station there, and plans to build two 4,000-square-foot buildings there. He mentioned when we spoke last week that Grand Central Bakery would be opening a store there.

Not really. But close. The family behind the original Grand Central has very strong interest in opening a similar style bakery, under a different name, at that location. So says Megan Davis of Hood River, daughter of Gwen Bassetti, founder of The Bakery in Seattle, which was followed in 1989 by the Grand Central brand.

Megan Davis says she would be the operating manager of the Hood River bakery. It has no name yet, but they’ve considered calling it The Bakery, in homage to Mom’s original effort back in 1973. She and siblings Ben, Piper and Sam, plus their mother, have talked about collectively launching the Hood River shop.

“We don’t plan on having a hearth oven,” Davis says. “It’s expensive, requires a lot of volume, and takes up a lot of space. We don’t plan to do artisan breads. It will be handmade breads, the kind you bake in pans. It’ll be more of a cafe, with rustic pastries. As my sister calls it, ‘the rustic veil.’ In other words, no eclairs.”

How soon? Hard to say. Much depends on the family’s ability to work through concerns related to the city’s development code, and its requirements for employee parking spaces, or fees in lieu of actual spaces so the city could develop the parking. It’s been a barrier to redevelopment of Bob Carnahan’s Waucoma Hotel building at 2nd and Cascade, and Pasquale Barone’s Union Building on Industrial Street.

Based on recent meetings with city officials, Davis is optimistic that the project will happen. She’s excited, too, to be part of the neighborhood, and helping bring some new energy to the Heights.

In the heart of a librarian beats a … Bottle Shoppe? Yup

12 May

Amanda Goeke is a librarian, once worked at the Parkdale library, now works on-call for the Hood River Library, and hopes — with her partner, Abe Stevens– to open Volcanic Bottle Shoppe, preferrably somewhere up on the Heights.

Last we talked, they were close to inking a lease that would put them midway between the Heights East and Heights West neighborhoods. Cool. That’s walking distance for all those uptown hipsters who like good beer and want to explore what they promise will be a worldly selection of bottled brews not commonly available elsewhere. Hey, with all the great Mexican food in that mini-Hood, you need something to douse the fire.

Details here, when the plans firm up.

Office complex across from Walgreen’s would host medical clinic

28 Apr

They’re doing the due — diligence, that is — which means the fat lady ain’t singin’. But if you hear an aria erupt, you’ll know that Stephen Ford and Andy von Flotow have secured a deal that could bring a medical clinic and other office space to the Heights.

Ford is a partner in Current Commercial. Von Flotow owns Hood Technology. Ford says a Portland developer hopes to put a 30,000-square-foot medical office building and related parking on the property just north of the former Ford dealership and just east of the Columbia Gorge Community College Indian Creek Campus on Tucker Road.

The property most recently got a close look from the city of Hood River and the college as a site for a possible fire station and classroom flex space. Limits on the use of funds prevented pursuit of that plan.

“The project would be anchored by an established Portland medical tenant taking approximately 10,000 sf with several other smaller medical and professional office tenant prospects in play,” Ford says.

The developers are still looking under the hood and kicking tires (apt metaphor, no?), but Ford says it’s looking positive.

The financing model is interesting. If it happens, tenants could buy shares of the limited liability company that will own the building. A professional property manager would handle leasing and maintenance.

“This will be the only class A office space with parking available in Hood River,” Ford notes.

The developers meet with the potential major tenant next week, in hopes of firming things up and moving ahead.

So long Dixie’s, hello Thai House

22 Apr

Here’s the latest on what was Dixie’s Southern Grub, and as of May 8 will be known as Thai House.

I finally hooked up with Jess Miller to learn more about the decision to sell Dixie’s Southern Grub. She and husband Kyle opened it in early 2006. Four-plus years and two children later — an eternity in restaurant time — they started craving more family time, more normalcy, benefits like regular hours, health insurance, evenings together and not at a restaurant.

Earlier this year, Kyle started commuting to Portland for sales training with Food Services of America. And they went looking for a buyer, which they found in Annie and Lone Keopaseuth. They closed the deal, cleaned things up and handed over the keys to the new owners on Monday April 19.

Kyle hasn’t been assigned a territory yet, so isn’t sure if commuting from Hood River will work, or whether the family may need to move closer to his work.

It’s been a tough transition, Kyle working in Portland five days a week, coming home to the Dixie’s kitchen on weekends. Jess was still putting in 30 to 35 hours a week, plus the work of raising two young children. “It’s just so nice to have Kyle home at night,” Jess said. “I’m not sad about selling the restaurant, but I am sad about not seeing our staff and all our wonderful customers.”

Annie Keopaseuth spoke with me about her plans. She and Lone, a longtime employee at Dakine, married five years ago. She is a native of Laos, which has similar cuisine to Thailand’s — lots of fresh vegetables, rich flavors from such ingredients as coconut milk, chiles, basil, mint and peanuts.

Annie knew how to cook, but she’s been brushing up her restaurant chops — with an uncle, who owns three Thai restaurants in Arkansas, and an aunt in Portland, who cooked in Thai restaurants for 15 years. “All the recipes are from her,” Annie says.

Sons James and Jesse will help run things. Before opening, the Keopaseuths plan to bless the Thai House with a Tuk Bard Party. Monks from their Buddhist temple in Portland will visit and conduct the blessing ceremony.

And on May 8, Thai food joins a dining zone that has been pretty heavily weighted toward Mexican food. Yum.

Check out Farm Stand for quality meat, produce

10 Oct

When it comes For options, little guys like Mother’s Marketplace and the former Wy’east Grocery have helped address niche needs. And growers’ markets such as the Saturday Market and Gorge Grown Food Network’s Thursday Farmer’s Market provide links between quality, local product and the buyers who want it.

Since February, shoppers have had a great small option up on the Heights, just south of, well, Rosauer’s. It’s called the Farm Stand. Bob and Elaina Wright and partner Doug Aronson started the store. They are also its staff.

I had seen it for months, until I dropped in this afternoon when I saw a sign outside marketing wild game — elk, bison, quail, boar. Hmm, I thought, that sounds interesting. You just can’t get that sort of stuff at the other places, with their miles of industrial meat. Rosauer’s does a good job of bringing in chemical-free meats. Safeway? Forget it, the commitment just isn’t there.

The Farm Stand cold case features product from Nicky USA in Portland (purveyor of wild game), Niman Ranch in California, and Mountain Shadow in Dufur. In an adjacent case, fresh fish on ice.

Across the aisle, you’ll find a good selection of produce, much of it local. Refrigerators hold everything from Alpenrose organic milk and other dairy products, to miso, to … Bubbies Sauerkraut. Tried it. Loved it. They’ve also got a great variety of flour, grains, beans, etc., plus gluten-free product. Soda. Jams, jellies, oils and natural sweeteners, too. Want some Agave nectar? They’ve got it.

Bob tells me they’ve taken great pains to package product in portions that people want for their quick-cook, time-constrained lives. Check it out.