Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



by: PHOTO BY RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - The proposed location of the First City Central Marketplace & Bistro at the Amtrak station is directly across from the End of the Oregon Trail Museum on Washington Street.Oregon City’s Urban Renewal Commission unanimously approved last week both a business plan for a bike cafe at the city’s Amtrak station and authorized up to $3.5 million in bonds for the Clackamette Cove project.

Commission votes had often been contentious and split during the past few years when it was a 10-member body.

Commission Chairman Paul Edgar said after last week’s 6-0 votes, “We are all looking for win-win environments,” and offered “pragmatism” as the answer for the now seven-member commission increasing its ability to find unanimity.

Economic Development Manager Eric Underwood believes there’s a culture change occurring within the commission to improve communication among members, and also between the commission and city staff.

“As a result, this has elevated the sense of trust among the ranks and has created a very positive environment, allowing the URC to shift its focus toward the bigger picture,” Underwood said. “Within the past 12 months, they have identified goals for the next three years, and their work is now guided by an agreed-upon set of core values. None of which was there before.”

The proposal for the station property at 1757 Washington St. now has an official name: First City Central Marketplace & Bistro. Commissioner Carol Pauli noted she was impressed by the detail in a 15-page business concept plan partnering with Clackamas Community College, as outlined by Main Street’s First City Cycles owner Blane Meier.

“I like how you linked the tourism, education and business part of it together; I feel that that’s what we’ve been talking about,” Pauli said.

Meier has spoken with representatives of the Oregon City Trail Alliance and the Clackamas County’s Tourism Department, and officials agreed to participate in meetings in the bike café’s planned “Map Room,” where tours would gather to decide on routes.

“That would become a real focal point for tourism in Oregon, and I’m really excited about that,” Meier said.

Each marketplace member would individually track inventory, revenue and expenses. To help cover $60,000 in estimated startup costs, First City will charge the three to 10 tenants monthly rent based on each member’s usage of the 1,900 square feet in the station. The commission would see First City’s financial reports from this arrangement.

Commissioner Rocky Smith said he hoped the project would revitalize an area of town that seems like a dead zone much of the week.

“It’s going to be difficult to bring anyone else in there, but something like this fills in so many other holes,” Smith said.

Expecting it would bring tourism, Commissioner Betty Mumm nevertheless advocated for a final business plan that would subsidize rents, not offer the property for free.

“I have no problem with moving forward with this project,” Mumm said. “I want to make sure that the lines are very clear though ... we need to put something in there for rent, just because we are the Urban Renewal Commission, and we do need to be thinking about that, even if it’s $200 to begin with or something, OK, just something, and I think if you have to pay something, then you get a better buy-in.”

Meier hopes to have a more detailed business plan ready for approval by the end of the month so that a soft opening could happen by April 1.

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