River Road project will be city’s first to combine offices, housing

A new development near Sonic Drive-In on River Road North will be the first to take advantage of revised development standards that encourage placing residential spaces on top of commercial property. 

Salem’s Clutch Industries is developing the site which will become Sonic River Apartments. The three story, 12,000-square-foot space will accommodate 13 apartment units and up to five commercial offices. 

“We’re not anticipating any retail, but a chiropractic or acupuncture office or insurance agency would fit great,” said Chris Blackburn, owner of Clutch Industries. 

Contractors are digging down to provide space for the commercial tenants and two stories of one- and two-bedroom apartments will be placed on top. 

“It will look quite a bit different than what drivers are used to seeing on River Road, but we’re excited to be able to provide what we think will be a really nice project when it’s all complete,” Blackburn said. 

Construction is expected to take about six months. 

Blackburn said the apartment components are being designed with an “urban walk” lifestyle in mind and a Cherriots bus stop just outside the door. 

Blackburn said the Sonic River Apartments are one of several development projects he hopes to embark on in Keizer, and added that the city’s planning department would likely keep him coming back. 

“We’ve done a couple of projects in Keizer already and the public works team and the planning department are the real heroes,” he said. “It feels like they are on our team.”

Blackburn expects to open up an application process for the apartments at the Clutch Industries website,, in the near future. 

During the past two years, the city took input on and drafted new development standards that encourage developments like the Sonic River Apartments. The goal is to begin taking a bite out of the city’s housing needs while incentivizing property owners on River Road North and Cherry Avenue Northeast to redevelop some of the existing spaces.