Madras may get new retail

Developer also has plans for professional center at 1.2-acre site

Jeff McDonald / The Bulletin /

Published Oct 12, 2006 at 05:00AM

A Bend developer wants to buy a once-contaminated site in downtown Madras and transform it into an attractive retail and professional center.

Stephen Trono, owner of The Trono Co., has reached terms with the Madras Redevelopment Commission to buy the 1.2-acre site on the corner of Fifth and F streets for $625,000. Juniper Auto once occupied the site.

Trono is the same developer planning The Mercato project on the former crane shed site in Bend's Old Mill District. The Mercato will have approximately 80,000 square feet of office, restaurant and retail space, plus 140,000 square feet of condominium space.

Trono's Madras deal is contingent upon the site getting the go-ahead from the state's Department of Environmental Quality.

The city bought the property more than a year ago and wants to resell it after removing gasoline and oil contamination left deep in the soil by a former gasoline station at the site.

The city spent $450,000 to purchase the property plus another $175,000 to clean it up, said Mike Morgan, city administrator.

It's the largest single-owner property purchased by the Redevelopment Commission in its efforts to spruce up downtown.

Created in 2001, the agency uses property taxes collected from new building projects to fund other projects within the urban renewal district, which encompasses the downtown area between North and South Y streets and a two-block-wide area on Fourth and Fifth streets.

At another downtown site on Fourth and D streets, the agency purchased six separately owned properties totaling almost 75,000 square feet, for a total cost of $1.6 million, Morgan wrote in an e-mail.

The property on Fourth and D streets is known locally as ”the hump,” and also considered an attractive future commercial development with a location in the heart of Redmond's downtown.

The agency is still deciding whether to sell the ”hump” to Todd Taylor and Jeff Pickhardt of Taylor-Pickhardt Real Estate Development of Bend. It will meet with the developers on Friday to discuss their plans for the development, which could potentially become a community gathering space with retail shops, a clothing store and possibly a small movie theater, Pickhardt said.

Additionally, the urban renewal agency plans to make annual payments totaling $525,000 to build a future 72-room hotel and conference center at the north end of town. It will be the city's first hotel in 20 years.

The city's urban renewal district board also will spend about $600,000 on public improvements including the North Y project as well as a grant and loan program that has provided funding for businesses to improve their facades.

Mayor Frank Morton, who also chairs the Redevelopment Commission, said the blighted auto site would have remained an eyesore without urban renewal funding to clean up gasoline and oil contaminants from a former service station that predated Juniper Auto.

”Had the MRC (Redevelopment Commission) not done it, no one else would've,” he said. ”It was a very blighted area.”

The Redevelopment Commission would require Trono to begin construction within 12 months of buying the property and be completed within 24 months, Morton said.

At the old Juniper Auto site, Trono plans a two-year buildout with two single-story buildings totaling 9,000 square feet that would front U.S. Highway 97. He wants to attract a larger-sized, well-known regional restaurant to the first building and could potentially lease or sell the second building to a bank, he said.

The third building, which would not front the highway, would be a two-story building with 6,750 square feet of office space.

By developing in downtown Madras, Trono hopes to take advantage of the population explosion that's expected to boost the need for commercial services.

City planners expect the population to double in the next five to 10 years, from roughly 5,600 to more than 11,000, they said.

”With some of the leading builders such as Pahlisch (Homes) and Brooks Resources coming to town, there's an opportunity in the commercial sector to provide retail and commercial use,” he said. ”This would be a high-profile location.”

Brooks Resources is a partner in the Madras Land Development Co. which is developing a 1,900 home, 900-acre community called Yarrow east of town. Pahlisch Homes has been slated as one of the future builders at the development. Both companies are based in Bend.