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Officials will meet with an unnamed developer this week to finalize details of the project

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - The city of Newberg may be close to accepting a plan for development of the former Butler property at the corner of First and North Howard streets.

Following an executive session in which the Newberg City Council discussed proposals, local officials remain mum on news concerning the parcel of land known as the Butler Property on First and Howard streets downtown.

Community Development Director Doug Rux said the council did discuss two proposals the city received for the property, but no further developments came from it.

"The council met in executive session on the proposals for the Butler property,"

City Manager Joe Hannan said, adding that the council gave city staff a direction to negotiate with one of the applicants, who has been notified the city wants to meet with them. Rux and City Attorney Truman Stone will meet with the applicant this week to work out a memorandum of understanding.

"We'll talk about what their concept is, what types of partnerships might be in there," Hannan said.

After an MOU is developed, the proposal will return to the council for a timeline to be developed.

"They are interested in getting going right away," Hannan said of the developer.

The 10,300-square foot piece of land has been vacant for more than a decade. It was formerly the site of a car dealership and was reclaimed as a brown field site after being sold to the city.

The city released a new Request for Expression of Interest form earlier this year after an initial developer backed out. The city sought an REOI in the summer of 2018, and after meeting with that particular developer, the developer chose not to continue with plans.

The property is zoned C-3, which is a mixed use zone that allows for a number of commercial and residential uses "with an emphasis on creating a dense and urban development form," according to the latest version of the REOI. The document states zoning standards are "quite lenient" with "no setbacks, height limits, floor area ratio (FAR) limits, low parking requirements or residential uses, and a wide range of allowed uses."

The city wasn't looking for a fully detailed proposal in the latest REOI, but also wouldn't reject specific proposals. The REOI stated the city was open to a broad range of ideas to bring more people downtown, such as "multi-story mixed use development featuring several floors of housing over ground floor retail." The city is also open to several deal structures, including outright purchase, land sale contract, ground lease and a lease with an option to purchase.

"This offering is intended to be flexible," it states.

Responses were due by March 1 to the city. The city already hosted a pre-submittal meeting on Jan. 30 at city hall for a tour of the property, and staff provided a project overview, discussed goals and expectations and potential partnership agreements.

"The city is open to submissions which do not identify a particular user or type of use, but merely set forth a broad set of intentions on the part of the developer, particularly if that developer can demonstrate a proven track record in other projects," the document states. "Restaurants, brew pubs or similar uses which provide evening activity downtown are highly desirable, as is new residential development."

Following the deadline for submissions, the city conducted a preliminary evaluation of submissions in March and April 15 was the date for preliminary selection of a developer. The council discussed the proposals in executive session that day.


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