Old police station could be repurposed as county tourism office
For years now, West Linn has flirted with a full-scale redevelopment effort in its waterfront area.
But, like a tongue-tied bachelor, the City was stuck in a holding pattern as conceptual plans were altered or scrapped altogether. Now, with a new waterfront master planning effort in its beginning stages, Mayor Russ Axelrod hopes to find a "pilot project" that could be a seed for future growth along that river.
The City may have stumbled on one such project as part of another ongoing initiative — the work to address "underutilized properties" City-owned properties across West Linn.
In December 2016, the City and its Underutilized Properties Task Force issued a Request for Information/Proposals (RIFP) on two of those properties: the former West Linn Police Station and the old Bolton Fire Hall. Now — though nothing is in writing yet — Clackamas County Tourism and Cultural Affairs has indicated an interest in repurposing the old police station.
"They need a small office space, for something like 10 or 12 employees," Axelrod said. "They're interested in repurposing to create a little cultural center space for (other) nonprofits to use, for office space, maybe a small coffee bakery.
"They love the location; it's at the center of everything."
The RIFP deadline was originally Feb. 16, but Parks and Recreation Director Ken Worcester said it was extended to March 2. He added that so far the West Linn Food Pantry and West Linn Community Preschool have expressed interested in the old Bolton Fire Hall, while Clackamas County Tourism inquired about the police station.
"(Clackamas County Tourism) have showed some interest; they've toured it and appear to be poised to submit a proposal," Worcester said. "But nothing to confirm yet."
Once the March 2 deadline passes, the task force will review whatever proposals come in and look to finalize its recommendations for all of the underutilized properties shortly thereafter.
"The task force has pretty much resolved everything except the two buildings (the police and fire stations)," Worcester said. "They're ready to make recommendations for everything but the two buildings."
The fate of one underutilized property at 21395 Willamette Drive was settled in early 2016, as the City Council approved the creation of a "pocket park" at the behest of residents in the area.
While nothing is certain yet with regard to the old police station, Axelrod said new development in the riverfront area near the Arch Bridge would be a boon for more ambitious planning efforts.
"Anything we can do to revitalize things and bring attention and interest to the area helps us," Axelrod said. "At least as an interim (option) until the community decides what we're going to do, it could be great."
Axelrod said there have also been talks of a suspension bridge that would connect West Linn with the soon-to-be-built Riverwalk on the Oregon City side of the river.
"Conceptually, this would have to be looked at by West Linn," Axelrod said. "All of these are potential seed projects that would not infringe on long-term development, but would bring interest to the area."