About a year after heavy snow collapsed the roof of the former Ray’s Food Place on Bend’s west side, a developer is putting together plans for 200 apartments rising over ground-level retail.

“There’s a general consensus, we don’t need another big-box,” said Mark Miksis, managing partner at deChase Miksis in Eugene. The firm is handling development of the former Ray’s site on behalf of the owner, Forum Westside LLC, also based in Eugene. The old grocery store was demolished last year after the roof collapse.

DeChase Miksis hasn’t filed a formal application with the Community Development Department but requested a meeting with the staff to discuss the feasibility of building five stories of apartments over one story of retail, Miksis said. The developer also would seek rezoning from general commercial to mixed urban. The mixed-urban zone encourages taller buildings, a pedestrian-friendly environment and a variety of residential and commercial uses. It also allows buildings to be 65 feet tall.

“It’ll be one of the taller buildings in the neighborhood,” Miksis said. He added that he’s planning to make sure the project doesn’t affect anyone’s views.

Because the former Ray’s site is set far back from Century Drive, he said, “we don’t feel that’ll be a big change to the neighborhood.”

The number of years the former grocery store sat vacant without attracting another user like Ray’s shows there’s just not much demand for big, boxy retail spaces, Miksis said. But there is a need for more housing in Bend, he said.

The last large rental-housing development Bend permitted west of the Deschutes River was Range Apartments, which is 132 units in NorthWest Crossing, Community Development Director Russ Grayson said. Range, which was completed in December, is about half-occupied, said developer Tom Cody, principal at Portland-based Project. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment at Range starts at $1,275 per month.

Miksis said his firm hasn’t decided how the apartments on the Ray’s site will be marketed.

The preliminary plan calls for organizing the apartments and small retail spaces around an open area that’s accessible to the public, he said. The site would also get improvements to make it more pedestrian-friendly, providing better connections to Simpson Avenue and Century Drive, he said. The surrounding businesses, a strip center that houses the Bangers and Brews restaurant, McDonald’s and First Interstate Bank, wouldn’t be altered, he said.

Forum Westside LLC also owns the surrounding properties. Miksis declined to name Forum Westside’s partners, but Oregon Secretary of State filings show one member is Dan Giustina, managing partner of the forestry company Giustina Resources.

The former Ray’s site is in the River West neighborhood and near several others that converge on the Simpson/Century roundabout. Cassie Giddings, chair of the River West Neighborhood Association, said the group supports mixed-urban zoning if the businesses are compatible with residential neighborhoods. The neighborhood group isn’t yet familiar with the plan for the Ray’s site, she said.

Retail spaces at the former Ray’s would be geared for local businesses, Miksis said.

Miksis thinks the project will qualify for rezoning because it aligns with the city’s comprehensive plan, and there’s adequate transportation and sewer infrastructure. Even with 200 apartments, the project would generate half as many car trips as the former grocery store, he said.

Miksis’ previous work includes Crescent Village, a 40-acre mixed-use development in Eugene. His firm also developed several student-oriented apartment buildings near the University of Oregon.

— Reporter: 541-617-7860, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com

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