The city of Redmond wants to take the concept of a live-work space beyond sleeping on a couch in the office.
A vacant property that was rezoned to allow residences alongside light industrial or commercial businesses has attracted its first tenant. Tensility, which makes custom electrical cables, moved into a 12,000-square-foot building in Evergreen Park in November.
Tensility is the first company to build on the 12-acre property, which is between SE Evergreen and E. Antler avenues, since the city created a live-work zone in 2011. The zone also covers a 54-acre area to the west that has historically been light industrial near residences.
The area needs more employment centers and residences to attract shops, restaurants and other services for the local community, said Chuck Arnold, urban renewal project manager. He called Tensility a “huge win.”
Tensility, which relocated from Bend, didn’t take advantage of Redmond’s live-work zoning.
The building is a warehouse with offices and houses 11 employees. But co-owner Seana McKenzie said she and her husband, co-owner Luis Alcala, think the zoning has potential for entrepreneurs.
“It was one of the things that attracted us,” McKenzie said. “We’re thinking about starting other little things and would love to have a grouping of businesses and (create) a community here.”
Evergreen Park developer John Schimmoller bought the property, which was originally laid out as a mobile home park, in 2006. Prior to bringing in Tensility, he sold two lots to other businesses, which have yet to build on them.
More recently, Schimmoller has talked with small-business owners, such as construction contractors, who want to live next to or above their shops.
“They like the idea of having one mortgage,” he said.
In the urban renewal area west of Evergreen Park, the proximity of residences to light industrial property can make marketing difficult, said Dan Kemp, a broker with Compass Commercial Real Estate Services. Business owners are hesitant to bring semitrucks through an area where kids might be running in the street, he said.
Kemp brokered the sale of a warehouse building on SE Jackson Street several years ago, and he said the live-work zoning was not what attracted the buyer, who was a real estate investor.
“The practicality of it is your living quarters has one set of requirements. Your business has another set of requirements,” Kemp said. “You put those together; it could be an expensive endeavor.”
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