Sherwood's historic downtown area is on its way to welcoming a new addition.
Construction is slated to start this summer on a three-story, nearly 15,000-square-foot mixed-use building on a vacant lot on the corner of Southwest Pine and Southwest Second streets.
When completed, the building will feature 5,000 square feet of ground-floor space. The majority of that space will be set up for restaurant use - although a tenant has not yet been secured and the developers say they're open to other options. A smaller space will be available for a retail or small-office tenant.
The second and third floors of the building will contain market-rate apartments. Plans call for a center three bedroom unit split over two floors along with two stacked one-bedroom units. Two units with two bedrooms each will be located on each outside area of the upper floors.
The project is the first for developer AJM Corp., which was founded by Kitts and partner Joe Keizer. It's also the first new building to be constructed in Sherwood's downtown area in more than a decade, said Kitts, who lives in the city.
While Keizer has a background in single-family residential development, mixed-use is a new focus for both he and Kitts. The partners first looked at the property about two-and-a-half years ago, but decided not to move forward on it at that time. Eventually the partners decided to circle back around.
"(The property) had gone off the market and then came back on," Kitts said. "The timing seemed right, and we decided to go ahead with (the purchase)."
Creating a new building on the site required more than a basic design, according to Byron Balog, associate at LRS Architects. The firm was brought on as project designer, with Balogh and Ben Riemer serving as project architects.
Because of its location in a historic portion of the city that locals call Smockville, in honor of city founders James Christopher and Mary Ellen Smock, the project was subject to guidelines that aim to preserve the historic look and feel of the downtown area That meant extra attention had to be paid to both the feel of the overall design and the materials used.
In addition to finished concrete and lap siding, for example, the use of brick on the exterior of the building pays tribute to the area's past. The city at one time was known as the leading manufacturer of bricks, according to Kitts.
"That's why 90 percent of old town is brick," he said. "It's part of that legacy and heritage."
For some parts of the building, the team at LRS had to tap a creative vein. Many of the century-old buildings in the historic district feature ornate cornices — a feature the city hoped to see recreated in the mixed-use-project. Trying to produce modern recreations would have proven cost prohibitive, however. So Reimers and his team found a prefab metal replacement that was affordable but also offered a character that fit with other buildings in the historic neighborhood
"We wanted to address the character, but we had to find a more simplistic way," Riemer said. "We were able to find a modern (solution) … that respected that original design."
LRS took care to meet with the city for design advice before appearing before a formal city design review. The process moved relatively smoothly in large part because city staff was very clear on what did and didn't work with the architectural firm's initial design, Balogh said.
Another bonus in making the process efficient lay in the fact that LRS used virtual reality tools to illustrate the project design and concept. When staff balked at metal awning original proposed by LRS, the architectural team was able to quickly provide an example of what the building would look like with canvas awnings that the city felt aligned more closely with the overall feel of the district.
The City of Sherwood has set a goal to increase pedestrian activity in the downtown area, so the developers and LRS focused on a mixed-use design that would create a strong street-level experience. While the developers are open to a wide range of options, they've identified a pizzeria as one of the favored tenants for the main ground-floor space.
One of the absences Kitts noticed after moving to Sherwood from Wilsonville was a lack of a place for groups to gather for large events like birthday parties and sports team gatherings. The restaurant space has been designed to include a loft that will be available for use for private events.
With the project nearing a summer date for a groundbreaking, Kitts said its likely AJM Corp. will pursue more mixed-use projects in the future.
"At this point I would say 100% 'yes' (to doing more), but we haven't broken ground yet," he said. "We still have a long way to go. But thus far, working with the city of Sherwood has been a great experience."
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