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Vision changes for project

Proposed Warren Street development likely will be scaled back

Monmouth City Council

Monmouth City Council

January 07, 2014

MONMOUTH — The vision of a three- to four-story complex at the corner of Main and Warren streets may take on a different, smaller look after Western Oregon University President Mark Weiss decided the university needed to hold onto its parcel of the project.

The original idea was to build something on the block — owned by three property owners: Tom and Gail Kleinke, the city of Monmouth and WOU — that would accommodate retail space on the first floor, with housing and office space on the second and third floors.

The city council has been active in contributing to the design concept of the building, even though the parcel owned by the city, the old fire district substation, is a small portion of the land available for the project.

The council continues to hope for a multi-use building.

The project, coined the Warren Street Project, has been in the discussion phase for nearly a decade, said Scott McClure, Monmouth city manager.

In fall 2012, the city unveiled a design concept by local architect Jan Honbeck, which residents approved of at an open meeting.

While the Monmouth council continues to discuss what councilors would like as part of downtown, no new sketches are available of the smaller plan.

Western pulled out of the project because the university may need it to expand its own footprint, Weiss said.

With one less party involved, it makes things less complicated, McClure said. But it also means the multi-use complex will have to be smaller because there is less land on the table.

McClure said he hopes to attract a developer by pitching the concept, which will be tested and backed by the city.

"Instead of saying, 'Here's a vacant lot. Do something.' We're saying, 'The city looked at this, and we think it will work,'" McClure said. "We are presenting something. We are open to talking. We think it's important."

Tom Fuller, the city's consultant on the project, will begin to talk with developers in Salem soon, McClure said. Fuller works with Shiels Obletz Johnsen Inc. of Portland.

Parking will continue to be an issue, particularly with residential units planned for the project, McClure said, adding that a developer would have to apply for parking waivers.

McClure said he hopes to make contact with a developer and to help mediate negotiations between a developer and the Kleinkes, who may have too high an asking price.

"We can have all the neat ideas we want, but if no one's interested, then you're done," he said.

For more information: Scott McClure via email to smcclure@ci.monmouth.or.us.

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