If you’ve been wondering the latest on the old “Wild Oats” building, this might help shed some light. Below is a letter Stan Amy with New Villages Group, Ltd. sent out to neighbors regarding the building’s status:
I want to update the neighborhood on where things currently stand with our efforts to reactivate the SE 30th and Division building. We very much appreciate everyoneâ€™s interest and encouragement, and enduring patience as we continue to work through the challenges with this project.
As you may recall, last February, we emerged successful from a protracted land use process that prevented us from redeveloping the building for over 2 Â½ years after Wild Oats left. This delay proved costly in time, money, and especially in market opportunity. There have been two primary negative effects of the financial crisis for development projects such as ours:
1) Securing financing with workable terms is much more difficult; and
2) The ability to attract tenants has been significantly diminished.
We spent much of last year reworking our project assumptions — even exploring the possibility of launching our own, new concept for the fitness industry. Unfortunately, while our analysis reinforced our belief that a gym is a great re-use of the building andtremendous demand for these services remains in the neighborhood, we concluded that the financial capacity to take on such a project in these times is beyond our reach.
As a result, we have been forced to go back to the drawing board to reconsider all options, including:
Continue looking for a fitness center operator with the capacity to open at this time;
Re-evaluating / identifying new uses for the second floor such as housing or office;
Phasing development (redeveloping sections of the building only after tenants are secured); and
Consider selling to another group or user with greater capacity to redevelop the building
We are sensitive to how frustrating this situation is to you and neighboring businesses. Please know that no one is more motivated than us to restore the buildingâ€™s vitality as soon as possible.
Outwardly, it may appear that not much has progressed but our planning is quite far along should the right circumstance converge to proceed.
Also, on a positive note, it has been rewarding to be able to host interim uses in the building such as Presidentâ€™s Obama and Senator Jeff Merkleyâ€™s election campaigns, the Friends of the Library Sale, South East Area Artwalk, and various community meetings. In fact, South East Area Artwalk will return this March 6 and 7th so please be sure to stop by in support of our local artists. The building has also become a mini-hub for the creative industry serving as an auxiliary production location for a local animation studio, a locally produced film â€“ â€˜Bucksvilleâ€™, and most recently a staging area for Gus Van Zantâ€™s next (as yet unnamed) movie. Itâ€™s also encouraging to see Pok Pokâ€™s expansion with the Whiskey Soda Lounge as well as Urban Development Partnerâ€™s new retail / apartment project across the street moving forward. These projects reflect the continued strenght and vibrancy of the neighborhood and offer us encouragement to our efforts.
If you have suggestions about prospective tenants or want to suggest uses for the building, please direct inquiries Neel Pender at firstname.lastname@example.org or (503) 281-2898 x124.
Thank you for all your continued support and interest. I wish we had more concrete plans to share, but we will continue to keep you informed as we move forward.
New Villages Group, Ltd.