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Port fits key piece in waterfront puzzle

Officials purchase industrial property from local company in efforts to help complete master plan work

Although the latest waterfront master plan may be a little dusty it is in no danger of being shelved like past efforts.

“We’re down to very few issues and are having ongoing discussions with the city so everything’s going well,” said Dave Harlan, Hood River Port Director.

Last week the port finalized a deal with Fast Serve Hood River, Inc., for a parcel of land that will play a key role in development of the 31 acres from the Hood River to the riverside jetty known as the Hook.

The .8 acre industrial property lies just north of the Texaco gasoline station at the base of the Second Street Overpass and was purchased for $537,000.

“We’re real happy to have worked with the city and port to allow their vision to go forward,” said Bob Barman, Fast Serve president. “I see this as a real win-win for the city and the community and we’re happy to be a part of that.”

Harlan said now that another key piece has been fitted into the waterfront puzzle, the port only has to nail down a few final zoning details with city planners before the “do-able” model can be presented to the public.

“Purchasing this property has been a top port goal to help bring the plan closer to reality,” said Harlan.

The current design work began in the fall of 2000 and was expected to be completed by the end of that same year. However, the port ran into a major roadblock when the conceptual drawing unveiled by the Leland Consulting Group, hired to frame the project, had a $12 million or higher price tag.

Unhappy with the failure of the Portland firm to tie better cost estimates to their conceptual drawings, the port withheld $15,000 from the final payment for Leland’s services and hired Carl Perron, a Hood River architect, to help downscale the project.

Harlan said the port board has been determined that the latest planning effort not join the stack of sketches from scuttled efforts in the past. He said while the modified plan is not as visually stimulating as the draft presented by Leland in late 2000, it is affordable at $5 million and still provides plenty of mixed-used opportunities.

The port and city have agreed to work together on the master plan to prevent a reoccurrence of conflicts over zoning that surfaced during the development of the original document in 1994. The goal of the two agencies is to improve land use, create more family wage jobs, provide recreational use attractions, and link the waterfront with downtown Hood River and the surrounding area.

The new plan has retained the “green swath” concept proposed by Leland and includes a walking path and use of landscaped open space to separate property uses. However, the road network has been modified so that is no longer crosses private property or splits buildable parcels, better preserving 11-acres of developable property which had been cut into “odd-shaped” lots.

Harlan said once the remaining zoning details have been finalized, the updated plan will be forwarded to the city council for review.

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