The old Les Schwab Tire Center location on Franklin Avenue in Bend is being converted into commercial and residential buildings. It’s one of several upcoming projects to rebuild an area that has undoubtedly seen better days.
“This project is really kind of the epicenter of the vision that our city council has laid forward for the core area,” said Allison Platt, Core Area Project Manager for the City of Bend.
“Building two new five-story multifamily buildings kind of on the north and south ends of this site, and the two multifamily buildings are intended to have about 195-plus residential units, primarily studios to serve, you know, market-rate housing for the community,” said Platt. “We are in desperate need of housing in the city of Bend, particularly in studio units.”
Platt says this project is possible thanks to what’s called the Tax Exemption Program.
“Council, as well as overlapping taxing districts, the school district in particular recently approved a ten-year property tax exemption for this project, and that is really intended to provide an exemption for their taxes for a ten-year period of time on just their residential improvements,” said Platt.
The value of any improvement made to these properties by private developers will be exempt from property taxes for ten years.
“That’s really intended to help spur private development in this area,” said Platt. “It’s really risky right now for private developers to move forward. We’ve seen interest rates nearly double over the last two years alone.”
The goal is to bring major improvements Franklin Avenue, 2nd Street and Hawthorne Avenue. That includes the new pedestrian and bicycle overcrossing and improvements to Greenwood Avenue within the next five to 10 years.
“We’re really standing at the epicenter of the core area today, and the goal is to be a walkable, mixed-use district where you can work, live and play all in one place,” said Platt.
Initial plans are to start the development in 2025.
The city is making a massive investment in this part of town. It’s purchased several lots in the same area with plans to relocate city hall.