The developer of a new retail building on River Road deliberately let people wonder what was going in there. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

The owner of a new commercial building on River Road revealed this week it would be a party supply store.

Doug Gray, a Keizer resident who owns Party Mart stores in south Salem and Tigard, plans to open his Keizer store in January 2012.

The $1.1 million project includes a 6,000 square foot retail building at the corner of River Road and Evans Avenue NE. The former on-site building was torn down to make way.

It answers the question Gray and contractor Dale Van Lydegraf set in motion when they filed plans for a new building with the city’s community development department. Plans showed little more than a retail building.

“I thought I’d build the suspense, since people are curious about a new building,” Gray said. “I thought it would be fun to have people talk amongst each other and wonder about it.”

Gray said he kept passing the corner of River and Evans and thought the parcel would be a good place to expand his business. In addition, Gray said it’s right behind Lancaster Drive and Commercial Street South for traffic count.

“(The old building) was tired and worn out, an this puts a brand new building in that spot,” Gray said. “It adds to the aesthetics of River Road in Keizer.”

Party Mart carries all manner of costumes and party supplies, including seasonal merchandise for every holiday, balloons, discounted greeting cards and gift wrap. This new spot is slightly smaller than his south Salem store, but he said he will carry all the same merchandise.

Gray emphasized the store’s local ties.

“We’re not a corporately-owned company from back east, or another part of the country,” Gray said. “We have a vested interest in the community.”

An opportunity to own the building – he leases his other two locations – played a role.

“You have something at the end of the day,” Gray said. “Whereas with a lease you basically walk away from it. Here I have an income piece of property that if I want to do something after Party Mart, it’s a nice building in Keizer that can be leased to someone else.”

He lives in town with wife Maryanne and sons Sam, Jon and Dan.

Dale’s Remodeling was the contractor, while Key Bank provided financing.