Obstacles to access at the South Y location make the developer wary of the risk

PHOTO  - Ertle Development Partners is looking to finalize a purchase of south Madras property with plans to build a Starbucks and later additional commercial buildings. Access issues remain a point which could derail the project. , Madras Pioneer - News Developer eyes south Madras spot for commercial project that could include coffee shop Starbucks at South Y? Maybe

Dreams of building a drive-thru and sit-down Starbucks at the south Y in Madras have hit a rough patch.

"We want to develop this," said developer Jake Ertle. "I've been chasing this land for four years."

Ertle likes the exposure at that location, which is visible to both north and southbound traffic.

In the spring of 2021, Ertle agreed to buy the property from Jefferson County for $210,000. He planned to build a 2,000 square foot Starbucks with indoor and outdoor seating and drive-thru service.

One thing stands in the way. The Starbucks needs better access from Fourth Street. Ertle wants the Oregon Department of Transportation to reconfigure the intersection to allow left turns from Fourth onto K Street and from K Street to Fourth.

"ODOT is not going to play ball," said Ertle.

Starbucks lost interest in the site, but when Ertle could find no better site in Madras, Starbucks reignited its interest.

Ertle's contract to buy the property from the county includes two stipulations:

1. That he develop other retail on the site.

2. That he begin construction within 18 months of the agreement, which would be April of 2023.

If he doesn't meet those stipulations, the county has the option to purchase the property back from Ertle.

"If you want the land back, buy it back now," Ertle said to Jefferson County Commissioners, "or let me develop it at my own pace."

Ertle worries that ODOT's construction plans for Highway 97 in downtown Madras (see story on page 1) will further block traffic to the coffee shop during the two-year construction period.

"Starbucks may not be interested," said Ertle. "It creates a risk I'm not willing to take."

Commissioners tabled the discussion to their Aug. 3 meeting, where they will consider their options: buy the property back, remove stipulations from the contract or leave things as they are.

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