By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Before meeting with Keizer City Councilors last week, proponents of new development in Keizer Station’s Area C continued to meet with neighbors.
One example took place at the Jan. 15 Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association meeting, as Brian Moore from Mountain West Investment Corporation talked about his company’s plans for 180 apartment units and Ben Settecase from Bonaventure Senior Housing talked about his company’s plans for a 154-unit retirement center.
Company representatives had previously met with neighbors in a group setting back in October. They also met with some neighbors such as Kevin Hohnbaum individually, as well as city staff members such as director of Community Development Nate Brown, who was also at the GGNA meeting.
Moore, director of Real Estate Development for Mountain West, noted he had been brought up to speed on the controversial history of Area C proposals.
“There have been uses people were not excited about in the past, like Walmart,” he said. “This is not Walmart. Walmart is not involved at all. We’re developing the residential portion of it. The prior approval was settled by people like Kevin. We had helpful conversations with him. That approval we’re seeking to change as little as possible. It was a product of a lot of discussions and public process. We seek to honor as many of those commitments as possible.”
While noting he doesn’t know who intends to do commercial development in Area C, Moore said the new plan puts the previous idea in reverse order.
“As far as infrastructure, there was a lot required,” Moore said. “What was anticipated was the commercial would happen first. All of the facilities required – the street improvements, all of that – was going to be required of that commercial developer. The traffic from commercial would be substantially higher than something like Bonaventure. What we’re trying to do is honor all of that. We’re teaming up to have adequate capital to do all those improvements, even though ours is substantially fewer trips than if commercial had gone first. That puts the lower traffic impact uses first, meaning fewer trips, yet it still provides the infrastructure as if commercial is going in first. (The infrastructure) has a large price tag, which is why we’re trying to do it together.”
Mark Caillier, the current GGNA president who was on the council when the Area C master plan was approved in 2011, wanted to know what would happen down the road.
“At some point will you get compensated by the future commercial development?” Caillier asked.
Moore answered affirmatively.
“That is our desire, yes,” Moore said. “We will record all the costs. When subsequent development comes along, they’ll basically pay us back.”
Meetings with neighbors yielded changes to plans, including a reconfiguring of the Bonaventure facility and additional trees. The companies will also pay for the construction of sidewalk along Chemawa Road, all the way south to Verda Lane in places where there is currently no sidewalk.
Moore said the apartment buildings will not add to current city stormwater systems.
“We will have rain gardens dispersed throughout,” he said. “It’s a qualitative way to treat rainwater run-off before it goes off to the aquifer. It also detains the water on site so it does not have an impact off-site. Some older developments shovel water into the city’s system of pipes. There are some challenges in the city pipes now for capacity. This keeps the stormwater contained on-site. We maintain it. This serves us well and it serves the community well. A lot of that is already being reviewed.”
Settecase said soil tests have already been done.
“There is overflow connected to the storm system,” Settecase said. “The city’s concern is downstream. We’re doing a full report under the direction of the city. We’re confident (our system) can contain all of our water on-site.”
Settecase acknowledged there is some risk in doing residential before commercial.
“There is some risk, but we are willing to take that risk and bet that it will be a good catalyst for the future of that area,” he said. “This will serve the seniors in the Keizer Station area. The (master plan) says you have to plant 20 trees total for Area C; we will put in 23 for our part alone.”
Settecase said the new facility will have independent living, assisted living and memory care. A four-story part of the building was going to be along Chemawa originally, but concerns were raised about that.
“From the street, (the previously approved medical office) was a more imposing presence than our building will be,” Settecase said. “The medical office had only a 30-foot setback from the street. We are 63 feet back. We will also have 98 parking spots. It was 285 spots before.
“We have four stories facing Kuebler (Boulevard) in Salem,” he added. “We are doing it different here due to the concerns of the neighborhood. The whole idea was to put the taller parts back on the new road, with a depth of trees, to make it a welcoming presence in that neighborhood.”