Retail development in Forest Grove nears opening
The paint is on, the signs are going up and, though passersby can't see it, the interior work is nearing completion.
The largest new commercial development in Forest Grove in years, Stonewood Center is expected to be mostly occupied and open within the next month or so.
Tenants include a Sherwin-Williams painting supply store, a Bank of America branch location, a Black Rock Coffee Bar cafe and drive-through, and a frozen yogurt shop called Pink Spoon. Six of the eight retail spaces in the roughly 13,000-square-foot building have already been leased, according to general contractor Todd Richendollar of Todd Albert Construction.
Stonewood Center is located at 3712 Pacific Ave., on the south side of Highway 8 in between Ace Hardware to the west and the newly built Forestplace Apartment Homes to the east.
"It's a perfect location for Forest Grove," said developer A.C. "Buzz" Avery. "I think it's the best in the community."
Avery is planning the current building to be the first of four on the site. Most of the space will be retail, he said, but one of the buildings could have office space on a second floor.
Asked when the last development of this type was built in Forest Grove, City Planner James Reitz had to think for a moment.
"Ground-up, of this scale — not in the last 30 years," Reitz said.
Reitz said the city hopes Stonewood Center will start a trend.
"I'm hoping this is the beginning, finally, of more retail activity," he said. "Hopefully the retailers will realize that we are here and will site their facilities accordingly."
The city conducted a study on retail "leakage" not long ago, Reitz noted. That term measures the amount of purchasing that residents of an area do elsewhere — for Forest Grove, in places like Hillsboro, Banks, McMinnville, Beaverton and Portland.
"Apparently, our leakage rate is fairly substantial," Reitz said. "So any opportunity we have to capture them here and keep those dollars in the community is a real plus."
Some of the Stonewood Center shops set to open in the coming weeks will sell goods that currently can't be found elsewhere in town. Forest Grove's only frozen yogurt shop, for instance, closed years ago, Reitz said, but Pink Spoon will offer residents a local fix for their fro-yo cravings.
Avery indicated he sees the city as a good bet for retail development.
"Forest Grove is doing well," Avery said. "They're growing."
Black Rock will even provide a relatively new experience for the Portland-based coffee company. Best known for its drive-throughs, which are ubiquitous throughout the Portland area, Black Rock will have sit-down cafe at its Forest Grove location along with a drive-through on the west side of the building.
"They're starting to do these much like as people are used to for Starbucks," Richendollar said. "They'll have their pastries and a sit-down area. There's a fireplace in there. More of a casual coffee shop, as well as the drive-through."
Construction has been going on for about five months at Stonewood Center, said Richendollar. A six-month buildout is fairly typical for a commercial building of its size, he said.
Ground could break on a second building in the burgeoning complex as soon as this winter. Some prospective tenants have already expressed interest in that building, Avery said.
Right now, Avery said more business types are being sought to fill up the first building and the buildings to come.
"We're looking at restaurants," he said. "We're looking at just whomever."
A particular interest of Avery's is making the complex a medical destination. He'd like to recruit doctor's offices, dental offices, counseling services and similar businesses. He also hopes to have service companies, such as a cellular service provider, in the complex, he added.
Sherwin-Williams was the first store to have signage put up that is visible from the highway this week, and the store is already distributing fliers to announce it is "coming soon to Forest Grove." The paint store will occupy Stonewood Center's largest suite, Richendollar said.
Once it's fully built out, Avery said the entire complex will total almost 50,000 square feet of commercial space.
By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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