Tuesday, October 21, 2008
MONMOUTH -- A key property in the downtown area is receiving a nearly $275,000 overhaul.
Eric Olsen, owner of Monmouth-based Olsen Design and Development, started work on what's locally referred to as the "Crider's too" building at 170 E. Main St. this summer. It's about a month away from completion.
The structure is being advertised for retail and office lease, though Olsen said his goal would be to see it used for a restaurant.
"I'm hoping it will be something that eventually connects (Western Oregon University) with the rest of the downtown," Olsen said.
The building is believed to have been constructed sometime in the 1970s, and originally served as an annex to the former Crider's Mercantile at the corner of Monmouth Avenue and Main Street.
The structure was a pharmacy until the early 1990s, then was a church gathering place for a couple of different congregations. A religious mural still adorns the eastern interior wall.
Olsen said the building was "horribly dated" and rundown when he purchased it from First Baptist Church in 2005. Contractors began renovating and remodeling this summer, adding a new brick facade, a roof, skylights and other improvements.
"Everything has been replaced, except for some support structures, the concrete walls," Olsen said. "In effect, we have for the most part a brand new building."
There were a couple of development hurdles to clear. The city had to replace an old sewer line that ran underneath the building, and Olsen said he was limited in the work he could do until that project was finished in May.
Financing was another issue, Olsen said.
"If you don't have a tenant in place right away, it's usually difficult to get financing," he said. "We probably could have gotten a coat of paint on it and leased it right away, but it wouldn't have been a long-term benefit for the city."
Olsen originally mulled over starting a restaurant or pub in the structure himself, but opted instead to look for "investors or somebody seasoned in the restaurant business to bring a first-rate establishment here," he said.
The building sits on a 15,000-square-foot parcel. A parking lot will be built to the west and connect it to Monmouth Avenue. Olsen said he might construct another building on the lot as it fronts Main Street in five to 10 years.
Mayor John Oberst said the redevelopment would provide a boost to the city's urban renewal district.
"The cynic short-term answer is it's more money in the pot," Oberst said. "The longer (view) is if you bring up one property, hopefully that brings up the properties around it."