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Crews will begin demolishing the old Cornelius City Council building in the coming days.

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - A worker from Gerlock Towing brings in a trailer for the construction of a new library building in Cornelius.Change is afoot in Cornelius.

Contractors are preparing to tear down a building that previously housed the Cornelius City Council's meeting chambers. That work will make way for the construction of a mixed-use building that will be the future home of the Cornelius Public Library.

Work began at the site at 1310 N. Adair St., across 14th Avenue from Cornelius Elementary School, on Monday, Dec. 11. Karen Hill, the city's library director, said crews are set to begin the demolition itself early next week.

There will be some public impacts as a result of the project.

Already, the sidewalk on the west side of 14th Avenue between Adair and Barlow streets has been blocked off by construction fencing. That fence will be extended out into the street as work ramps up, said Cornelius Police Chief Al Roque, and that segment of 14th Avenue will become a one-way street for northbound traffic only starting Tuesday, Jan. 2, while construction is ongoing.

Parking will be affected as well. Roque said Washington County Sheriff's Office vehicles will be relocated from the police lot on the south side of the Cornelius Public Safety Building at 1311 N. Barlow St., moving to what is now a public lot on the building's east side. That lot will be reconfigured, temporarily reducing the amount of public parking on Cornelius' main civic campus, until the work on Cornelius Place is complete.

Construction is scheduled to take about 13 months, according to Hill.

ILLUSTRATION COURTESY OF THE CORNELIUS PUBLIC LIBRARY - An artist's rendering shows Cornelius Place as it would appear from the outside.Cornelius Place is years in the making for the city and its community partners. Along with almost 14,000 square feet into which the library will move, it is also expected to host a YMCA center and apartment housing for low-income seniors.

The construction of Cornelius Place will "be the spark plug to redevelopment downtown," City Manager Rob Drake said at a City Council work session last Monday, Dec. 4.

"For a small city our size to accomplish a project like this, you've been steadfastly supportive," Drake told the council. "And we had a mission that's going to help this community for decades."

This isn't Drake's first library project. He was mayor of Beaverton in 2000, when the Beaverton City Library moved into a new multipurpose building at 12375 S.W. Fifth St.

"When we built the new library in Beaverton, there was a lot of anticipation … and it was an experience of a lifetime seeing the look on residents' faces when we actually did the dedication to open it," Drake said. "And I think we'll double immediately the number of people coming through."

The library foundation set up to raise money for the project is nearing its fundraising goal of $5.7 million, Hill said. It has collected about $4.99 million so far, she told the News-Times.

Funds are coming from a variety of sources, including several charitable foundations that are purchasing naming rights. The community room at Cornelius Place, for instance, will be named for the Walters Family Foundation.

Library operations in Cornelius, as in most other Washington County cities — including Forest Grove, Hillsboro, Banks and North Plains — are heavily subsidized by the county through Washington County Cooperative Library Services. Hill said WCCLS provides half of the Cornelius Public Library's operational funding.

"We will be dependent, as we have always been, on WCCLS heavily in our library program here," said Cornelius Mayor Jef Dalin.

A ceremonial groundbreaking on the Cornelius Place construction project was held Sept. 23, with a number of local officials and representatives, including U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, in attendance.

But the real labor began Monday, said Hill. Work is expected to continue through the winter, barring weather disruptions, and wrap up in early 2019.

Cornelius Place is a joint venture. The city is partnering with affordable housing developers Bienestar Oregon and BRIDGE Housing on the project, with BRIDGE serving as its primary developer.

Once complete, Cornelius Place will provide 45 housing units for residents 55 and older. The YMCA center will include recreation and fitness facilities.

Cornelius won't act as a landlord for the residential component of Cornelius Place. Last Monday, the council approved a resolution agreeing to grant BRIDGE a 99-year lease over the affordable housing units in the building. The city will retain ownership of the ground-floor facilities.

For the library, the Cornelius Place location will be a big change — with an emphasis on "big." The library currently occupies about 3,000 square feet, Hill said, so the new space will represent a nearly fivefold increase.

The library and council are effectively trading spaces. The current library building is anticipated to become the new home of the Cornelius City Council once construction on Cornelius Place is complete and library operations migrate over to the new building.

In the meantime, the City Council is holding its regular meetings at the Centro Cultural, 1110 N. Adair St.

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - The old Cornelius Town Center's days are numbered. Demolition is expected to begin next week.

By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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