Lot 4 Lifespan: Expo Center teardown marks new era for property

The Expo Center, or the remains of once was called "Blue Building" and "Waterfront Centre."

Photo by Patrick Mulvihill
The Expo Center, or the remains of once was called "Blue Building" and "Waterfront Centre."



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The glassy peak of the atrium, looking east.

The former Expo Center is deep into demolition.

Crews with Crestline Construction are chewing into the building, 50-foot piece by piece, turning it to rubble. Key Development Corp. bought the property from the Port of Hood River in March to implement a new chapter in the property’s history.

The greater Expo Site — known historically as Lot 4 — will soon be home for a Tofurky storage facility and, by mid-2017, two new light industrial buildings.

The Expo Center itself, one of the county’s largest public buildings, held a special place in Hood River for years as an event center — festivals ranged from the agricultural tour-de-force of Harvest Fest and the Bite of the Gorge to wind sports conventions.

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In 2006, a ladder of fruit adorns the west atrium during Harvest Fest, the signature event's last time in the building.

Expo Timeline

1980 — Clark Door, an international door manufacturing company, signs with the Port of Hood River to build a factory on a 5-acre tract north of Jantzen Inc.’s clothing plant on the waterfront — known now as Lot 4. The factory opens in 1982.

1990 — Clark Door files for bankruptcy after years of financial uncertainty and plant closures at its parent company, Mesker Clark.

1991 — Port decides to convert the old Clark Door building, then called “Blue Building,” into “Waterfront Centre” to host events.

1996 — With high hopes, the port takes on a $1 million renovation of the building, reviving what had come to be known as the Hood River Expo Center. A wind sports convention kicks the center off with a gust of energy.

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The 2003-2004 event known first as Bite of Hood River and then Bite of the Gorge, filled the Expo Center with restaurants and wineries.

1999 — Port considers partially “mothballing” the building after three years of losing money through Expo Center, which rarely brought in events.

1999-2008 — North annex office used by Hood River Chamber of Commerce for offices and Visitor Information Center.

2001-2005 — Expo Center hosts a handful of popular events, despite overall losses for the port. Harvest Fest stays strong at roughly 20,000 people annually. Other highlights were Bite of the Gorge and Windfest.

2006 — Port decides to adapt the building for commercial re-use. Its primary function becomes storage space for local industrial businesses, including Full Sail Brewery and Solstice Café.

2008-2014 — Full Sail Brewery, 2008-2014. (Until demolition, a Full Sail sign remained in the main door, directing deliveries and inquiries to brewery offices on Columbia St.)

2013 — Port decides to sell the property to Key Development, on condition that a handful of re-zones get carried out in coordination with the City of Hood River.

2014 — City planners recommend the two-parcel Expo Site gets re-zoned from general commercial (C-2) to light industrial (LI), part of the greater Waterfront Refinement Plan, which sets rules and criteria for another era of change on the waterfront.

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The north annex, which served as Full Sail and Chamber offices, and in its final iteration, the Warming Shelter.

2015 — The port approves design plans for new buildings where Expo Center sat, as well as a Tofurky storage facility on the west parking lot area of the site. City approves designs, but requires Key to demolish the old structure before getting building permits. From January to March the north annex (former Full Sail offices) is leased to Hood River Warming Shelter for overnight accommodations for the homeless.

2016 — In winter, the port sells the west portion of the property (Tofurky) and east (Key). On April 7, crews begin tearing down the old Expo Center. As of mid-April, construction is expected soon on the Tofurky building.

2017 — Within one year, Key Development expects to finish two new buildings on Portway Avenue. From there, two more buildings are expected in the greater Expo Site property, finishing a new light-industrial block by 2019.



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