Stage set for new waterfront buildings

EXPO SITE gets a smooth base of gravel as crews work onsite Wednesday afternoon. Construction is busy on the waterfront at the sites of Key Development’s new buildings and Sheppard’s waterfront outlet.

Photo by Patrick Mulvihill
EXPO SITE gets a smooth base of gravel as crews work onsite Wednesday afternoon. Construction is busy on the waterfront at the sites of Key Development’s new buildings and Sheppard’s waterfront outlet.

Construction is humming along at the Hood River waterfront.

Key Development Corp.’s work at the now-flat property the Expo Building once occupied is moving ahead smoothly — the company expects to place a foundation on two new light industrial buildings along Portway Avenue in mid-August.

“We’re still chugging along as planned,” Claudia von Flotow, development director, said.

Key recently submitted plans to the City of Hood River, classified as minor, to adjust some features on those structures.

The Portway buildings, both three stories tall and 15,000-square-feet, will be connected by an accessible roof walkway. The amended plan shifts some elements around and repositions an “elevator core” into an indoor area between the buildings. Entrances will be ADA accessible.

“The intent is we want it safe for pedestrians and people in wheelchairs to get to that plaza,” von Flotow said.

The adjusted plans were before the city planning department as of June 30. Tenants aren’t yet announced.

On the ground, crews are forming the pads for the buildings and parking lot, which will have more than 100 spaces. The lot will span south from the buildings to touch Anchor Way.

Von Flotow said much of the material used in the project was salvaged from the original Expo Building, which the company tore down in April.

Once the two new buildings abutting Portway are complete, Key will build two additional buildings along North Second Street.

The deadline for construction at the greater Expo Site, set out by an agreement with the Port, is 2018.

Another piece of the project — the Turtle Island (Tofurky) storage facility planned for the existing Expo Site parking lot — has been pushed back until spring 2017.

Key submitted a request this week to the Port of Hood River asking to re-design the “Turtle Island Building” in order to accommodate multiple tenants, and to extend the construction timeline by one year. Previously, construction was slated for spring of 2016.

Port Executive Director Michael McElwee said Key will need to bring back an amended plan and construction schedule to the Port for approval, likely by October.

Von Flotow explained the newly designed building will have extra storage space for waterfront businesses. Key will initially fill the property with existing companies on the waterfront, several of whom were previously using the Expo Center like a big storage closet.

On a visual level, the company is considering some other design-level changes to the Turtle Island building, like using cross-laminated timber, a more environmentally friendly and eye catching material than steel.

Another project deep in the works on the waterfront: Sheppard’s new locale.

The Hood River orchard equipment retailer broke ground earlier this year on a new facility at the corner of North Second Street and Riverside Drive, one of the first visible properties upon driving north from downtown. Work crews have finished the property’s concrete slab, and the structure’s walls are being erected. A business representative said the building itself will go up quickly, McElwee said. Sheppard’s expects to settle into their new digs — on an interior completion and occupancy basis — by February 2017.

Sheppard’s, one of the county’s longest-standing family-owned businesses, provides equipment, supplies and other products to orchardists and other customers. It currently operates in its two original buildings, on State Street between Second and Front streets.

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