SISTERS - Despite a slowing real estate market, a Sisters developer is trying to jump-start economic development with a high-end industrial park designed to bring an urban feel to this small, Western-themed town.
The Sun Ranch Business Park would be the first of two business parks in Sisters and the first planned in Central Oregon that would combine light-industrial businesses with attached loft apartments, and commercial activities, according to Economic Development for Central Oregon.
The area, located north of Sisters' downtown, could serve as a retail and service destination for Sisters residents, with a brew pub, adventure-related businesses and other shops potentially interested.
”This will be the economic heart of the future Sisters,” said Shane Lundgren, president of Dutch Pacific Properties LP. ”It will start a whole new group of people doing things that will not be fudge and candle operations.”
Lundgren has sold 11 of 20 lots on the property, but all were sold before sales dropped off in June, he said.
”Most are people I know who bought based on the idea of what this development will be,” Lundgren said.
The developer will use $3 million from the sales to build two showcase buildings on separate lots of the business park, he said.
Bend-based Mountain Link and Pine Mountain Sports, and two breweries from Flagstaff, Ariz., and Dusseldorf, Germany, have expressed interest in locating in the park, he said.
Additionally, Muddy Fox, a Taiwan-based bike manufacturer, and a Palm Springs, Calif.-based bed manufacturer, could sign contracts by next spring, he said.
The park cleared its first planning hurdle last month when the Sisters Urban Area Planning Commission OK'd the live-work component.
The zoning change still needs final approval from the Sisters City Council, which must conduct two public hearings, said Bill Adams, a planning consultant and former planning director for the city.
No date for the first hearing has been set.
So far, few objections have arisen other than putting residences in industrial zones, Adams said.
”It changes the dynamic of the light-industrial district in terms of interest and momentum for future development,” he said. ”The project would support the economy of the area.”
Approval would allow businesses to have loft apartments in their buildings. The park would be part of a 40-acre development that would include a remodeled Conklin's Guest House Bed and Breakfast and residential housing.
The bed and breakfast will be renamed the Sun Ranch Inn, Lundgren said.
It would be one of two planned developments in Central Oregon to combine industrial businesses and living space, said Eric Strobel, business development manager for EDCO.
Peter Hall, developer of the Three Sisters Business Park west of Sun Ranch, will seek Planning Commission permission in January to make two zoning changes.
Like Sun Ranch, he would like to create second-level lofts with separate entrances above businesses in an industrial zone. He also would like to change the zoning from light industrial to residential, he said.
”Our project will be very similar in that we are proposing light-industrial lofts in our business park,” he said. ”We're different in that we're proposing a completely different kind of neighborhood with light-industrial oriented housing.”
The idea would include townhomes, smaller-sized single-family homes and possibly some apartments that would be suitable for work force housing, Hall said.
Both businesses could potentially spark economic development in Sisters, said EDCO's business development manager.
”It's a seed-type of environment,” Strobel said. ”Business could start small in Sisters with all the support and land they need. As they grow, it could mean more employment and expansion.”
A lack of leasable space has deterred businesses from moving to Sisters, Strobel said.
”Businesses are looking for a facility that they can lease, not necessarily buy,” he said. ”Sisters has a bright future - it just need to get some buildings up.”
At the ranch
Sun Ranch Business Park, as depicted in the rendering, would feature light-industrial businesses with attached loft apartments, and shops.
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