‘Jug handle’ changes greenlit

The Keizer City Council approved amendments to the Keizer Station Master Plan that will pave the way for construction to begin in an area south of Chemawa Road Northeast. 

The space known as “the jug handle” between Ulali Drive Northeast and Chemawa is now approved for four buildings instead of three, one of them will likely become Keizer’s third 7-Eleven. There is no mention of a potential Chick-fil-A in the plans for the property owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians. 

Instead of one large retailer, a convenience market with a gas station and a fast food restaurant with a drive-through, the plans now accommodate: an 8,000-square-foot automotive accessory retail building, a 4,800-square-foot fast food restaurant, a 3,000-square-foot convenience market, gas station with 12 fueling pumps and a 2,000-square-foot quick-lube shop. 

Building plans for a 7-Eleven in the southeast corner were included in the amendment and variance package approved by the council. On the same day that the council approved the master plan changes, 7-Eleven announced it was acquiring Speedway gas station for $21 billion. 

A new traffic light will be installed at the entrance and exit point of the new development. The developer, RPS Development Company is including a 2,200-square-foot, interactive water feature in the southwest corner of the jug handle. 

The changes to the plan actually reduce the footprint of the building slated for the site by about 1,500 square feet, from 19,400 to 17,800. With a wider variety in the services offered, the shopping center is expected to generate about 410 “trips” per day, an increase of about 40 trips over the original plans. The 4.2-acre site will also lose an estimated 14 parking spaces that would have been designated “Park and Ride” spaces between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. as a result of the other changes. 

“The primary reason for that is the world has changed a lot. We now have the transit center across the street. There might be some space to recapture those spaces south of the jug handle,” said Shane Witham, Keizer’s interim development director. 

The vacant fields south of the jug handle are zoned primarily for light-industrial and office spaces. Eventually, the area south of Chemawa Road Northeast will be known as Chemawa Station.

The only person who testified regarding the change in master plans was Keizerite Mike DeBlasi.

DeBlasi suggested adding more trees to avoid the space turning into “a heat island.” He also suggested putting in a roundabout instead of a traffic light to manage ingress and egress to the site. 

Mayor Cathy Clark encouraged a conversation regarding a roundabout, but Keizer Public Works Director Bill Lawyer said it was not an ideal site for that sort of traffic control.

“We already see traffic backed up and a roundabout will complicate that. I don’t think it would be functional in this setting,” Lawyer said.