Publish by The Blade on Feb 1, 2019
By: Jay Skebba
The city of Oregon is continuing to acquire land in its quest to attract developers and create a town center.
Oregon accepted an offer to enter into a lease-purchase agreement with the owner of the former Kmart site on Navarre Avenue. The city has a few months to decide if it wants to go through with the deal or change course in what City Administrator Mike Beazley called a “due-diligence phase.”
Additionally, city council recently approved an agreement with the Oregon Economic Development Foundation to continue seeking land to develop and create a downtown.
The Kmart site is one of the most crucial pieces of the puzzle.
“Ultimately that’s one of the most important and most visible corners in the city,” Mr. Beazley said. “It’s the parcel that really connects our target development area with our main business corridor on Navarre, so that’s an important parcel for the city. We have to make a decision between now and April if we wish to enter into a lease-purchase agreement for that parcel.”
Mr. Beazley said the city intends to find a private-sector agency to develop the property. The lease would be good for up to 10 years, with an option to buy it at the end of the lease. The lease would cost $3 million, and buying the property would cost another $3.7 million. He said plans had been “on hold” for the past year while the city negotiated with the owner of the land.
Oregon evolved out of a township and never truly established a downtown.
“What we can do is build a space where we have some mixed-use where people can walk, perhaps to their place of employment or to a restaurant,” Mr. Beazley said. “They can get out for a coffee and have a space people can consider the center of our community.”
Oregon previously purchased 30 acres behind the Kmart site for $1.4 million. In 2017, council approved a zoning overlay for 167 acres east of Wheeling Street between Navarre Avenue and Pickle Road to allow for residential, commercial, and mixed-use development.
Mr. Beazley said the city is also working to acquire a four-acre parcel south of Dustin Road and will submit requests for proposals from prospective developers. He envisions a finished product including dining, shopping, housing, and possibly medical offices, but said the city will be “flexible” and listen to developers.