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City officials impressed with group's history and capabilities invarious projects

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - The long-vacant Buter property on First Street may soon be developed as the city is prepared to sign an agreement with a developer.

Although the name of the developer has yet to be released, the Newberg City Council will enter into an agreement regarding the development of the vacant parcel of land known as the Butler Property on First and Howard streets downtown.

The city has owned the vacant property for several decades; it was formerly the site of a number of automotive dealerships, garages and repair shops. The 10,300-square-foot piece of property was designated a brown field site when the city took ownership, leading the city to seek a federal grant for its clean-up.

The city released a new Request for Expression of Interest (REOI) 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.

Since being turned over to the city, the parcel has been used for a variety of public gathering, including as host to the farmers market during the summer months.

The city received proposals from two developers during the second round of REOI. By having City Manager Joe Hannan sign the MOU and enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement, the city is taking the next steps in the sale and development for the property.

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 lease with an option to purchase.

The MOU would establish an understanding between the city and developer that would lead to a disposition and development agreement and a purchase and sale agreement. These would then be returned to the council for a public hearing and then a decision.

There is no fiscal impact to the city, other than potentially receiving revenue from the sale of the property.

Hannan said city staff was "confident and encouraged by the breadth of (the applicant's) experience at developing and redeveloping property in Oregon and elsewhere." He added that once the MOU was signed, the city would announce the developer.

"They've got a lot of unique ideas, so as soon as we get the memorandum of understanding they'll be around the community showing what their ideas are," he said.

Community Development Director Doug Rux said the item before the council was an exclusive negotiating agreement, which would lead to an MOU for a sale and purchase agreement.

"It's just another step in the process," Rux said.

He said after council action, he will "continue discussions with an interested party with the hope we will get to a development agreement in the future and a purchase and sale agreement" which would be brought back before the council.

"It's negotiations, it's discussions," he said. "I've just got to get through the next steps to continue to take my baby steps forward."

Business briefs

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Dental care now available during prenatal visits

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