Many of you have noticed that the empty lot at the corner of SE Ladd Avenue and Division has been paved recently and wondered what is in store for the site. The County owns the lot due to a tax forfeiture many years ago, but has worked closely with REACH Community Development Corporation in arranging grant funding to clean up contamination on the site, left from its days as a gas station. As you may remember, REACH has worked with the HAND community on its plans to construct a mixed use building which will include a mix of affordable and market rate housing units, as well as commercial spaces on the ground floor. Below is an update from Michelle Haynes of REACH.

“The asphalt cap on the site at SE Ladd Ave and Division Street has been ordered by DEQ. The function of the cap is to prevent ground water from permeating the ground and potentially causing any lingering contaminants from migrating onto the property next door. It must remain in place until construction begins; once our building is up, it will eliminate that problem. The cap will cover all but the southwest corner that abuts the alley; that will remain dirt.

Once the County finishes the cap, it can apply to DEQ for environmental clearance. This could take anywhere from one to six months, by my estimate (but hopefully, closer to one month than six). Then the County will be ready to transfer the site to REACH, a process that itself could take a month or two. So my best guess is that the property will transfer to REACH by early summer.

In the current economy, it is likely that REACH won’t be able to start construction on our building until 2012 or later. That would provide a window of at least 2 years for temporary beautification and use of the lot. REACH does not have a source of funding for temporary improvements to the lot; we’d have to work with HAND to get grant funds for that work.”