Details released in La Pine urban renewal plan

About $7 million would improve storefronts, develop recreation spaces and remodel buildings

By Elon Glucklich / The Bulletin

La Pine leaders hope a new urban renewal district could lure restaurants, retail businesses and new attractions like a movie theater or brewery to the area.

An urban renewal push has been in the works since November. But city manager Rick Allen offered the clearest details to date of the city’s proposal at a work session with Deschutes County commissioners this week, ahead of a Wednesday public hearing that could officially launch the district.

Of the more than $7 million the city hopes to use to boost its downtown core, about $2.4 million would be set aside to assist private entities looking to expand businesses or start new ones.

The money could be especially useful to recruit companies into the city’s industrial park, which Allen told commissioners has developed more slowly than the city would have liked.

Nearly $1.8 million would help the city develop new recreation sites, like a permanent home for rodeos. Some of the money would also go to remodel medical and emergency services buildings.

The city hired Elaine Howard, an urban renewal consultant from the Portland area, to help craft La Pine’s proposal. Urban renewal districts don’t impose any new taxes on residents, but carve away money from projected property value increases. The La Pine plan would shift $7 million into the urban renewal projects over the next 25 years.

“The projects the people in La Pine want are ones that improve the look and feel of the downtown district,” Howard told commissioners. “There’s the need to attract business and bring new jobs, and to keep youth in La Pine. Right now you don’t have the businesses that keep youth there.”

Bend, Redmond and Sisters have all set up urban renewal districts to boost their downtown cores.

The La Pine plan would offer more than $400,000 in “storefront loans” to help business owners improve the appearance of their buildings, and to update some of their signs.

They’re the kinds of small but notable changes that have improved the looks of other Deschutes County communities, Allen said.

“La Pine is the only incorporated city (in the county) without an urban renewal district,” Allen told commissioners. He said 100 people showed up to a recent public meeting about the La Pine proposal, “and everyone said to move forward.”

The La Pine City Council is scheduled to vote on forming the district on July 23. But the public has a chance to provide input first. The public hearing starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday at La Pine City Hall, 16345 Sixth St.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, eglucklich@bendbulletin.com

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected. In the original version, the scheduled date for a City Council vote on the urban renewal district was incorrect.

The Bulletin regrets the error.