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Property developer and architect provide city residents with update on redevelopment plans

More than 50 residents packed a meeting room at St. Helens City Hall, spilling out into the hallway Wednesday, Oct. 17, to get updates and see the vision for the St. Helens water-front just outside the building.

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Dwight Unti (right) and Eric Cugnart present their vision for a new boutique resort hotel and housing development along the St. Helens waterfront during an update meeting held for the public Wednesday, Oct. 17. More than 50 people attended, maxing out the meeting rooms capacity.Representatives with Tokola Properties and Studio C Architecture shared their vision for a "transformative" boutique hotel and housing. If built, the project would be the largest mixed use development in the city's history.

Dwight Unti, owner of Tokola, dazzled the room chock-full of people as he described a multimillion dollar 120-room "destination resort hotel" with 160 units of multi-family housing in a four-story building slated to line the riverfront behind the Columbia County Courthouse Plaza.

As envisioned, the new property would also include a spa, restaurants and retail amenities, as well as water sport equipment rental, and a bike storage and bike repair station. The project isn't just unique for St. Helens, it's unlike anything else the county has ever seen.

"You're an emerging main street district," Unti said. "This type of development will return the riverfront property from a public property to where it can return to the tax rolls."

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - The Columbia River lines a stretch of public park space in St. Helens. Future development plans for the waterfront site include a 120-unit hotel and more than 100 additional units of housingMuch of the planned waterfront redevelopment and infrastructure improvements needed to support the hotel and housing will be funded by the city's urban renewal district.

The success of the plan will also rely heavily on an estimated $18 million needed for a boardwalk and related paving projects, city officials said. Earlier this year, the city applied for a $15 million federal transportation grant to help pay for that project. No construction timelines were announced and design for the project has yet to begin.

Information and documents for the redevelopment can be accessed here

This story has been updated to correct Dwight Unti's title with Tokola Properties.

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