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Port approves development plans for Expo Center site


2004: Inside Expo Center, volunteers sort food for Christmas Project, once an annual use of the facility. 
The once-active assembly hall is now mostly empty, and plans are underway to redevelop the waterfront location, including demolition of the building.

News file photo
2004: Inside Expo Center, volunteers sort food for Christmas Project, once an annual use of the facility. The once-active assembly hall is now mostly empty, and plans are underway to redevelop the waterfront location, including demolition of the building.

The hulking Expo Center won’t face teardown until the end of 2016, but plans for the smaller buildings replacing it are becoming more sharply defined.

Turtle Island Foods (Tofurky) comes first. The vegetarian food processing company has received approval from the Port of Hood River and the city on their plans to build a 20,174-square-foot refrigeration and distribution facility at the parking lot on the west corner of the site, which rests at the corner of Second Street and Portway on the waterfront.

The adjunct will serve in conjunction with their main building on nearby Anchor Way, which opened in 2013. Construction is slated for next spring.

Next at the Expo Center site will be light industrial buildings designed by Key Development Corp. of Hood River.

The port approved Key’s design plans for the two buildings last week. The port expects Key to close on the first phase of the property sale by December, and to begin building by the end of 2016 — at which point, the original Expo Center will be demolished.

Port commissioners voted unanimously to approve Key’s permit set at an Oct. 20 meeting, which means plans will now go before the city planning department for approval.

Port of Hood River Executive Director Michael McElwee said the development company’s plans not only met but exceeded design parameters outlined by the port.

“Is it meeting our design guidelines? Absolutely and then some,” said McElwee.

Some of the guidelines, outlined by the city’s Waterfront Refinement Plan passed in December 2014, included building size and appearance as well as vehicular and pedestrian impacts, which McElwee felt Key president Jeff Pickhardt had “looked locally” and “creatively” to address.

Pickhardt plans to build a pair of three-story buildings at the spot the vast Expo Center occupies. The structures will serve multiple tenants, with accessible rooftops and a street pathway for pedestrians.

According to the architectural design plan, there will be a 96-space parking lot at the southwest corner of the 2.1-acre former Expo Center parcel, and three loading spaces for trucks serving the light industrial users. Street trees will line the area in a parklike setting, similar to Walker Macy’s design concept for Lot 1, the other major undeveloped portion of the waterfront (just east of the expo center property).

Since 2013, the port has discussed taking down the old structure to make way for a parking lot and new buildings. The expo center has been largely vacant since 2006, and was last used as office space and warehouses for Full Sail Brewing Co. for several years until early 2014, when the brewery completed its expansion downtown. In late winter 2015, the north annex of expo center was home to the seasonal Warming Shelter, and valley fire departments used the inside of the building for a simulated fire training exercise in early 2015.

Development of the central waterfront parcel has taken an extensive rezoning and permit process, and now is working through an amended and re-stated Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) approved by the port in February.

A section of the DDA required Key to submit plans that follow the port’s design guidelines, which have grown more specific since the city passed the Waterfront Refinement Plan, which allowed for both commercial and industrial use on the greater lot.



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