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Existing Gresham branch likely to close when new building takes its place, building could be sold to fuel development.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Gresham Library will likely be replaced by the new East County Flagship branch. Multnomah County is still seeking a site for its new East County Flagship Library, which would serve the region and likely lead to the closure of the current Gresham branch.

Since the passage of a $387 million bond that includes a new library in East Multnomah County that will rival the Central Library in downtown Portland in size and service, leadership have been trying to identify a suitable site.

The main considerations are location, size, population density, and access to public transportation. Those criteria make it likely the flagship branch will be opened somewhere in Gresham.

And that new library, which has been estimated to be 95,000-square-feet, will likely replace the current Gresham Library, 385 N.W. Miller Ave. Library leadership have mulled selling the land and building to help spur the purchase of a new location. Even if that doesn't happen, the Gresham branch is destined for closure once the flagship opens — though the county said the new location likely won't be called the "Gresham Library" because of the desire for a regional asset.

The county is eyeing a fall 2024 timeline to begin construction on the new library.

The bond is also rebuilding and expanding six other branches across the county. It would create a centralized and more efficient materials handling center to move books and materials around to all the branches.

There would also be seismic improvements to library buildings and the branches would be made more accessible for people with disabilities.

The new flagship library is an attempt to better serve East Multnomah County. Forty percent of the county's population lives east of Interstate 205, while only 24% of the library's footprint is there — the lowest of any region in the county. East County has 0.19 square feet of library space per person, compared to 0.44 square feet for the "north" sector of the county.

The new proposed flagship would be more than four times the size of the current Gresham Library, which is 19,300 square feet and sits on a one-acre site.

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