By Scott Hammers • The Bulletin

After 11 months in a new location, Bend Area Habitat for Humanity is planning to expand its ReStore.

The ReStore, which sells donated furniture, appliances and building supplies to fund Habitat’s homebuilding efforts, moved into the former Backstrom Builders Center building on Third Street just after Thanksgiving last year. Sales have boomed since moving to the new location, said Robin Cooper Engle, director of development for Bend Habitat.

“We’ve gotten probably 50 percent more donations than we’ve ever had before, and so we are selling close to $100,000 worth of items every single month,” she said. “There’s so much stuff, it’s in and out, it’s an amazing amount of material.”

Cooper Engle said the organization has begun planning an expansion of the store that would add approximately 6,600 square feet to the more southerly of the two buildings it now occupies.

The addition will allow Habitat to sell a separate property it owns and move its administrative offices into the ReStore, while adding space to expand the retail operation.

Although construction on the expansion is not expected to begin until next November, the ReStore has seen some improvements in recent weeks.

A 184-panel solar array was installed on the roof and is expected to produce around 90 percent of the electricity needed to power the store. A scrap metal mural created by Bend artist Justyn Livingston depicting the Deschutes River has been installed on the south- and east-facing walls.

Sophie Paez, director of retail sales for Bend Habitat, said last year’s move to the Third Street location — previously, the ReStore was on First Street, in the space now occupied by Oregon Spirit Distillers — has greatly improved the store’s profile.

“It’s just visibility; it keeps us top of mind, people know where to go,” she said.

Paez said she doesn’t expect the range of products sold at the ReStore will change as a result of the expansion, though the store will be able to bring all items, with the exception of lumber, inside.

Strong sales are also allowing Habitat to step up its construction schedule. Cooper Engle said until recently, Habitat has been building three to four homes a year for low- and medium-income Bend residents. It’s on track to build six or seven this year, she said, and looking to get to around 10 homes a year in the near future.

The limited availability and cost of unbuilt lots are ongoing challenges for Habitat, Cooper Engle said, and that has prompted the organization to explore building attached, townhouse-style units. Next year Habitat plans to build a fourplex on a piece of land it recently purchased from the Oregon Department of Transportation just south of Pilot Butte, and it’s looking for land to construct a duplex.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387,

shammers@bendbulletin.com

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