By Leslie Pugmire Hole

The Bulletin

REDMOND — After extending a deadline three months, the city of Redmond is anticipating as many as six applications from developers seeking to launch ambitious projects downtown with up to a half million in forgivable loan dollars.

The Jumpstart Loan Program is new and designed to accelerate redevelopment. This summer, the city opted to shift money from an underutilized, low-interest loan program into a single, potentially forgivable loan that might prove to be a catalyst for the Redmond economic scene.

The original December deadline was pushed forward to give the city more time to publicize the loan program. Potential applicans were required to register interest by Dec. 10. Their final applications are due Feb. 28.

“We wanted to get the word out beyond conventional means to make sure we got the outcome we wanted, (and that was) to have plenty of choices,” said Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky.

City staff, including Witcosky — who was with the Portland Development Commission, the urban renewal arm for the city of Portland, for 16 years ­— have been approaching developers personally, aiming to increase awareness of the program.

“I don’t know how much of this was on the radar for people who normally wouldn’t be looking at Redmond,” he said. “So we’d rather be able to give everyone a chance — including those who haven’t done any projects in Central Oregon before — by allowing more time.”

Redmond’s Urban Renewal Plan, updated in 2011, identified several projects for downtown with potential for public-private partnership, including the historic Redmond Hotel, a family recreation center, a lodging and meeting facility and the Evergreen School building.

Jumpstart applicants are not limited to those projects but they will be scored on the potential for stimulating the economy of downtown Redmond.

According to Heather Richards, community development director, of the six developers who have expressed interest in the program, two are from outside Central Oregon and four have worked with the city on other projects. Although she had no specifics, Richards said project categories range from family entertainment to lodging and retail.

“They appear to be significant projects,” she said, adding it’s possible one or more of the six may decline to formally apply.

Criteria for the loan is stringent, requiring proof of resources to guarantee the loan for the five-year period the business is obliged to operate. The city would hold a lien on the property until that time. Developers are required to provide $4 for every $1 they receive in public funds; even more private funding would strengthen its position in the competitive application process. A maximum of 20 percent of the project costs can come from the loan, or $500,000, whichever is less. The loan is only available for new construction or those involving substantial rehabilitation and cannot be used on land acquisition.

“This (program) got a ton of play around the state, so whatever happens, this is a chance to show the region that we know what we are doing,” Witcosky said. “It would be big news to take a historic resource and renew it, but this also needs to be a destination that serves Redmond and brings people in.”

When the application window closes in February, the proposed projects will be reviewed by a team composed of city staff and Downtown Urban Renewal Advisory Committee members, with final say from the Redmond Urban Renewal Board. Projects will be scored based on their potential to attract investment, jobs and families downtown, as well as to tackle blight.

Richards said the city hopes to winnow the applications and have one selected by the end of March. While there are only Jumpstart funds for one major project, it’s possible that one of the others may be eligible for another urban renewal program, she said.

“An ideal partnership would take an important downtown location, match private and public funds and create energy where before there was none,” Witcosky said.

— Reporter: 541-548-2186,

Editor’s note: This story has been clarified. In the original version, the initial Dec. 10 deadline was not clear.