GLENWOOD — Springfield wants to make another multimillion-dollar investment in its vision of a revitalized Glenwood.
The Springfield Economic Development Agency is negotiating a $5.6 million purchase of the property that houses the Ramsey-Waite vehicle and equipment dealership on Franklin Boulevard in Glenwood, with plans to eventually demolish the dealership and use the seven-acre site as the main access point to properties fronting the Willamette River.
The Ramsey-Waite site previously has been proposed for a government-subsidized hotel and conference center development. That project never advanced.
The city is boosting the river frontage — now mostly hidden and inaccessible — as a major selling point of Glenwood.
Any actual change could be years out. Under a tentative sale agreement, Springfield would lease the Ramsey-Waite showroom, service garage and warehouse back to the company for up to two years while the firm looked for a new home, according to a memo attached to the Springfield Economic Development Agency's Monday meeting agenda.
The agency's voting members are the six Springfield city councilors and the Springfield Lane County commissioner, Sid Leiken. They'll have to approve the purchase and sale agreement Monday before it's finalized.
Springfield leaders have for years imagined a vibrant Glenwood expanding the city's tax base by enticing private developments such as hotels and restaurants. But the city says it needs to upgrade the area's infrastructure to lure those businesses.
The city is currently finishing a $6.4 million rebuild of Franklin Boulevard through the east end of Glenwood, including in front of the Ramsey-Waite property.
"This (Ramsey-Waite) site had always been a key sort of jump-off point for that redevelopment," said Courtney Griesel, Springfield's economic development manager. "It has become pretty clear in the last year or so that really moving this community vision forward was going to require controlling this site fully."
The economic development agency would borrow $5.8 million from the Glenwood Urban Renewal District, which collects property taxes citywide to pay for Glenwood improvements. Besides the $5.6 million property purchase price, Springfield would give $200,000 to the Ramsey-Waite property owner, the local Karotko family, to cover business relocation costs.
Under the urban renewal system, Springfield, which has jurisdiction of Glenwood, could spend up to $37 million in property tax dollars on Glenwood redevelopment through 2025, city officials have said.
The city is set to complete one of its first major infrastructure improvements in Glenwood next month: a redesign of the eastern part of Franklin Boulevard, constructing two roundabouts west of the Willamette River bridges into Springfield. The project is funded with state and federal grants, city funds and just several hundred thousand dollars from the urban renewal fund.
Demolishing the Ramsey-Waite building will allow Springfield to build a street off the smaller of the two roundabouts into the north Glenwood area, Griesel said. Owning the property "generates the first public access to the riverfront area of Glenwood," she said.
The land owned by the Karotko family runs from Franklin Boulevard north nearly to the Willamette River. The undeveloped part of the property behind the Ramsey-Waite shop could eventually be the site of a cutting-edge parking garage made of cross-laminated timber, a longtime goal of the city and a centerpiece of the area's larger development.
Other developments have been floated in the past, most notably a $43 million waterfront hotel and conference center proposed in 2014 behind the Ramsey Waite site. The plan fizzled amid financing uncertainties, and the local group behind it hasn't been in touch with the city in years, Griesel said.
Homes for Good, Lane County's public housing agency, last month bought a 1.3-acre property immediately west of the Ramsey-Waite site, with plans to build up to 147 units of low-income and market-rate apartments there.
Griesel said the use of urban renewal funds will be pivotal over the next few years as the Springfield Economic Development Agency oversees infrastructure improvements across the riverfront area.
The city used urban renewal funds to buy land in the western part of Glenwood where two large hotels have been built in recent years. Funds also covered part of the cross-laminated timber parking garage design costs.
But the Ramsey-Waite acquisition is the economic development agency's largest single use of urban renewal money in Glenwood since the district was established 14 years ago, Griesel said.
"If this is the direction (the economic development agency's board) decides to move in on Monday, this will be a milestone," she said. The riverfront in Glenwood "is a place the community deserves to have access to."
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