IN THE RING: Should the city work to create a downtown district in Keizer, complete with affordable housing, office and retail space?

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Each week the Keizertimes asks community leaders a question about current events.  To see more of this week’s answers or answers to past questions log onto www.keizertimes.com and click on In the Ring.

This week’s question: Should the city work to create a downtown district in Keizer, complete with affordable housing, office and retail space?

Kimberly Strand, owner, Willamette Valley Real Estate—
Multi-use is a great idea close to where all services are.  Apartments or loft space above retail and office would be great along River Road, if done properly.   Our plan is to beautify the downtown—River Rd corridor and the multi-use, like recently done on Broadway St. Salem would be a nice addition to Keizer.

Roy Duncan, retired state of Oregon analyst—
No.  I don’t remember this in the constitution and if it is wanted it should be done with private money.

Phil Bay, former city councilor—
I have shared my views on many occasions that I believe it is important to maintain the core of Keizer(River Road) if that you are referring to as downtown.  I do not think it is good to see large retail space empty, and we should encourage business development to fill all vacant spaces, and that includes office occupancy.  I do not think that the city should try to develop more affordable housing, as I believe that would over work the city staff and would only expand our spending in the effort to do so, as we can not afford to spend more in implementing that kind of a plan.

Art Bobrowitz, Compass Rose Consulting—
The idea has many possibilities but I do not see this as a workable option for some years to come. Based on current economic conditions, I don’t see how this type of plan could pencil. Keizer will generate significant affordable housing in our current economy. Building a core downtown with new housing options will only continue to depress the current supply.

The other problem is where will you get the money? Urban renewal would be a bad option. That would mean you would be adding additional debt to an already depressed surplus of existing housing. For now create the idea. The economic indicators are no where to be seen. City leaders should keep working on the dream but live and operate in our current economic reality.

Pat Ehrlich and Jim Willhite, vice presidents, Gubser Neighborhood Assoc.—
We don’t think this is what Keizer needs to focus on.  We have so many empty buildings now which need to be filled and there is really not a good location to create a “downtown” district.  It seems to be a problem in Area C of Keizer Station to create something along this line.  What would be torn down to create a downtown district?   Let’s just work with what we have and make River Road and our other shopping areas successful.

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