I'm encouraged about this. Gresham has got a new young 'urban minded' 34 or 35 year old mayor. He only took office in January but I do think he will come up with a high density idea for this property soon.
Rockwood: The future starts here
The site of a beloved Fred Meyer store could be the starting point for Rockwood's renewal
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Nearly 50 years ago, the Rockwood Fred Meyer store opened in rural East Multnomah County, to great fanfare.
Now, several years after the one-stop shopping center closed its doors, the old structure is coming down -- piece by piece -- to make way for urban redevelopment at the key intersection of 185th Avenue and Stark Street.
But sentimentality remains.
Kathie Minden, who grew up in Rockwood, remembers shopping there with her mother for the polished cotton fabric that was so popular for skirts back in 1958. "You could get everything you needed and wanted," she said of the Rockwood store. "I always associated it with the beginning of school."
As the longtime neighborhood grocery and retail outlet fades into memory, however, the question of what might replace it -- and when -- looms large. Rockwood, after all, has struggled against poverty and crime, and some residents -- like Minden, a former member of the city's urban renewal advisory committee -- view the site as the starting point for renewed economic opportunity.
She imagines a multistory mix of housing and retail that will have the area humming with activity from morning until night.
"Change is opportunity," Minden said. "I think this is the catalyst to get things moving."
Once the building is down, what's going to be there?
Development - Gresham is content to take its time to ensure next step is the right one
Thursday, March 22, 2007
A few weeks from now, the old Rockwood Fred Meyer will become a gravel lot.
There is no timeline for what happens next, no firm plan spelling out exactly what will take its place at the center of Rockwood.
Instead, planners for this urban renewal project are taking their time, talking to developers and studying their next steps.
"We want to make sure we do it right. We're promoting patience on this project," said Rebecca Ocken, the city's urban renewal manager.
Gresham's Redevelopment Commission won't build the project by itself, but instead hopes to interest developers in a public-private partnership, in which the city retains some control over the design.
The commission -- made up of the members of the Gresham City Council -- calls the 6.5 acres of the old Fred Meyer property "Catalyst Site 1." Anything built here, they say, has tremendous potential to influence the rest of the area.
"The ground that it covers is substantial," said Gresham City Counselor Karylinn Echols, the vice chairwoman of the commission. "It's at the pinnacle of all those roads coming together. . . . It sets a standard for the rest of that area."
In 2005, some community leaders wanted that catalyst to be Plaza Montana, a large education center mixed with several other uses. As first proposed, the project was estimated to cost $82 million; but the urban renewal area is expected to receive $92 million from taxes during its 20-year life span, Ocken said.
Voters rejected a Mount Hood Community College bond measure that could have helped pay part of the Plaza Montana price, Ocken said.
"That doesn't mean the educational component is a lost idea, but the huge Plaza Montana concept, because of the cost, cannot go on this site," he said.
Other ideas abound. At a meeting for the public, residents voiced a variety of desires: a grocery, a community center, a new library, a year-round farmers market, a school, a hardware store, a destination restaurant, a continued police presence. Some noted that the building should generate some taxes to help support the rest of the urban renewal area.
From the commission's standpoint, five objectives must be met:
Design: The design must reflect cultural diversity, embrace light rail and reinforce pedestrian activity in the neighborhood, the goals say. It must use quality materials and "invigorate" the area around it.
Public streets: Once the Fred Meyer building is gone, the commission can put public streets through the property. A consultant also recommended turning Burnside into a pedestrian-friendly main street, with wide sidewalks, large trees and public art. Planners are looking for grant money to help them reconstruct the outdated light-rail shelter, tripling its footprint, Ocken said.
New housing at a variety of prices: A 2004 study estimated that the surrounding town center area could support 367 more homes and 586 more apartments by 2014. But a 2006 ECONorthwest analysis pointed out that private developers haven't been offering good-quality homes in Rockwood; the commission needs to step in and make up for that gap, Ocken said. It will emphasize home ownership rather than rentals.
Public spaces and amenities, including an energetic public plaza with activity in the day and evening.
Commercial and office space.
City officials, Ocken said, keep calling on developers, talking about the land and asking them to consider what they could bring to a public-private development partnership.
That is the reason that it was important to demolish the building now, even though no immediate plans to build exist, Ocken said.
It was expensive to maintain the empty building. And the old Fred Meyer, once the center of Rockwood, had become an obstacle for people trying to imagine the area's future.
Rick Dwyer, a member of the commission's advisory committee, agreed.
Before, "a developer sees an old, run-down building," Dwyer said. "Here, we're going to gut the thing, and have an empty lot. Now a developer can see whatever he wants to see."
Catherine Trevison: 503-294-5971 email@example.com
"Green" razing of old structure relies on deconstruction, recycling
Preparation of the site of the old Rockwood store marks Gresham's entry into a green type of project
Thursday, March 22, 2007
GRESHAM -- Mike Green still remembers his childhood trips to the Rockwood Fred Meyer, pushing the cart with his mom as they cruised up and down the gleaming aisles.
"I wonder," he said nostalgically last week, "how many miles we did in that store."
Thirty years later, Green, a civil engineer with the city of Gresham, is overseeing the store's destruction to make way for redevelopment of the 6.5-acre site in the Rockwood Town Center.
Actually, the word is "deconstruction."
The teardown is the city's first foray into "green" demolition, a project expected to result in a clean slate for redevelopment and more than 97 percent of the 85,000-square-foot building being recycled or reused.
In early March, Konell Construction and Demolition of Sandy, the low bidder, began dismantling the store piece by piece under a $91,373 contract with the Gresham Redevelopment Commission.
First, workers ripped into the interior, carefully hauling out copper pipe, electrical wiring and reusable wood, and separating each type of material into orderly piles.
Last week, they began picking off the main roof timbers and knocking down the exterior.
By April 20, the store, which was built in 1957 and closed in 2003, is scheduled to be completely gone, replaced by a vacant lot that city officials hope will capture the imagination of developers.
In the end, more than 2,500 tons of concrete rubble, 71 tons of metal and 30 tons of wood will have been recycled or reused, Steve Konell, the company's president estimates. He makes his profit by selling the deconstructed building materials to local markets he's cultivated in the past 12 years or reusing it himself on construction jobs.
The store's old roof timbers, for instance, already have buyers.
Some of the wood eventually may end up in Mexico, he says; the metal also could be sold to China to fuel that country's rapid modernization. An old sliding window from the store's on-site bank likely will serve as a windbreak at Konell's home in Central Oregon.
Konell, who has 65 employees and works about 30 wrecking jobs a year, started in demolition 25 years ago with a gas station and "worked his way up," he said. His resume includes a long list of major razing jobs, including seven Fred Meyers.
Green demolition became his norm about a dozen years ago when he discovered he could save money by crushing concrete on one project and using it elsewhere as part of his construction business. It reduced his disposal costs and was cheaper than buying crushed rock from a gravel pit.
"It started out as a money-saving thing for us," he said. "Now it's more about the environment." As natural resources become more scarce, Konell said, the hulking timbers that he used to burn as firewood now command around $6,000 each.
Today, green demolition is becoming so popular that Metro, the regional government, recently launched a new Web site, www.boneyardnw.com
, an online commercial building exchange linking buyers and sellers of recycled building materials. Konell, one of the larger demolition companies in the region, helped test the free service before its debut about a month ago.
Metro estimates that 60 percent of the approximately 250,000 tons of construction and demolition debris that Portland-area contractors disposed of in 2004 was recyclable or reusable. Konell hopes wreckage salvaged from the Rockwood Fred Meyer earns him $50,000 to $75,000.
"There's hardly any job anymore where we don't salvage," Konell said. "It just doesn't make sense not to -- copper wire goes for $2 a pound." If they can strip the insulation off, make that $2.50 a pound.
Robin Franzen: 503-294-5943; firstname.lastname@example.org