Tag Archives: Urban Renewal

All the pieces, bits and pieces

16 Aug

Word from Mike Kehoe, owner of the Hood River Square center just west of Wal-Mart, is that two new businesses are about to open doors there. One, locally owned, is the Pearadise Creamery, dishing up frozen yogurt and smoothies. Its sign is up, but work inside continues. It’s next to Quizno‘s and Pizzicato. The other new shingle belongs to an office of Country Financial. It actually opened on July 1. Owner Thomas Torok says he will help people with a variety of Country insurance coverage — home, life, auto, health, worker’s comp, risk management. Torok worked 15 years trading stock options on the Chicago Board of Options Exchange, and before that worked as a certified public accountant. He still does tax work on the side. He and assistant Kim Solberg hold down the fort from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Their office is in Suite 105, at the northwest corner of the square, 2940 W. Cascade. Call 541-386-0284.

Allyson Pate, she of the big WINGS, tells us the space formerly occupied by the Movie Gallery will soon house a new outlet of the Maurices clothing chain. Allyson should know. Her husband, James, does property management for the Harsh Investments, which owns the Cascade Commons. The closest Maurices is now in The Dalles at 1320 W. 6th St. Two calls to get further details from the chain’s district manager have not been answered. Margaret Georgilas with Harsh said the company prefers not to talk about new tenants until deals have been firmed up, so it sounds as if it’s merely a possibility at this point …

Targeting Portland? Quick chat with one downtown retailer the other day revealed that he/she/it is giving strong consideration to another outlet — in the Portland market. I’ll let you guess who this is (but hey, we all know good stuff starts here, then works its way into the PDX mindset)…

Everybody wants to be (seen as) green. Or is that “sustainable?” Scratch beneath the buzzword to hit the heart of the matter” What’s behind the claim? Brian Watts of the Watts Building Co., a longtime Hood River contractor, recently completed the nine-month Sustainable Building Advisor Program at Mt. Hood Community College. Watts is putting his mettle to the pedal in a new bungalow-style home at 3013 Sherman. It’s far from his first. His first home, built in the Sierra Nevada foothills in 1980, employed passive solar water and space heating design. What goes around comes around …

Mark and Peggy Hudon of Hood River Coffee Co. are kicking up their heels, after placing their coffee in Whole Foods stores in the Portland area. Next in their sights? New Seasons. …

Todd Dierker of Gorge Grown Food Network says Market Money is ready. It’s their term for gift certificates good for purchase of products at the weekly Farmers Market (Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m. at Hood River Middle School, into October). Call Todd at 541-399-2840 to buy Market Money — they make great employee incentives to 1) support local growers, 2) encourage healthy habits, 3) cut out the middlemand, 4) reduce greenhouse gases from transporting tons of produce from California and Arizona …

Oh, did we tell you about the new discounted parking rates downtown? Bob Francis says the city has changed the hourly rate for people parking at the Columbia lot, the one across from Full Sail and the Hood River Cinemas. Rather than the 75 cents an hour to park on metered streets, you can park in the Columbia lot for 50 cents an hour. The idea is to encourage employees who now park close to their places of work to use cheaper space just a bit farther away. But hey, anyone can use it. …

Speaking of the City, it’s moving ahead with plans to create an urban renewal district on the Heights. A recent meeting with the Heights Business Association provided a chance for business owners to ask questions and suggest uses for money. Again, Urban Renewal does NOT create a new tax or increase existing taxes. But it does siphon off the incremental increase in taxes that comes with higher assessed valuations, to help finance improvements such as sidewalks and lights and landscaping and storefront remodeling through revolving loan funds. The city is conducting a feasibility study with its consultants. Jack Trumbull of Anderson’s Tribute Center suggested extending the district boundaries north, to link streetscape improvements along 13th with Oak at Egg Harbor. He favors the same light poles as in use downtown. Lynn Roberge of John L. Scott Realtors and DR Productions suggested using local contractors for the work, although City Manager Bob Francis says the city is handicapped by Oregon bidding law that puts a premium on lowest price. Francis says the timeline puts the feasibility study in front of the City Council at the fourth meeting in September …

Once discussed in prior parking studies, the idea of a second level for parking above the current Mt. Hood Railroad parking lot is apparently getting some new interest — by the newest owners of the railroad. So said City Manager Francis at a recent meeting …

And while we’re on the topic of parking — and the Chamber is leading continued talks about parking (the next parking committee meeting is 6 p.m. Aug. 18, Hood River Hotel Landmark ballroom — here’s an interesting piece that appeared in the Sunday New York Times. Higher pricing for parking would help reduce fuel use, car traffic and greenhouse gases. Anybody ready for that approach? Oh, yeah. We’re green alright — between here and the car door. …

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. …

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.