December 05, 2001 11:00 pm

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

The La Grande City Council Wednesday night took three actions to spur the renovation of the downtown business district.

The council made official what it had discussed during a Monday night work session.

The action approved unanimously includes:

(1) Awarding Calvin and Sharon Dykes $40,000 from the Emerging Opportunities Fund to help with a $260,000 development of an antique mall on the upper floors of their business, Good Things.

(2) Agreeing to apply to the Northeast Oregon Alliance for $100,000 to establish a revolving loan fund to provide property owners money to rehabilitate their buildings. The city is prepared to match that with an additional $100,000.

(3) Authorizing City Manager Wes Hare to continue negotiating with a public/private partnership comprised of the city, ODS Health Plans, Eastern Oregon Net Inc. and the State of Oregon Employment Department to pursue construction of a $6 million office/retail/city library complex at the site of the just-vacated Safeway store at Adams Avenue and Fourth Street.

Calvin Dykes told the council he had bids on about 70 percent of an antique mall project, adding the project would be in three phases, with most of the work to be done in the first phase.

Community Development Director Mike Hyde told the council the Northeast Oregon Alliance should reach a decision on funding the revolving fund within a couple of months.

If the fund is established, it would provide loans ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to help the 56 owners in the downtown historic district renovate their properties.

Mayor Colleen Johnson said the city has been talking with ODS Health Plans officials about the old Safeway site for months.

Hare said the discussions were initiated by ODS, which now has an ernest money agreement for him to consider.

This project could go quickly or take a while, Hare said.

In an unrelated matter, the council agreed to widen U Avenue to 30 feet between Pine Street and Willow Street and vacate a portion of Jackson Avenue to help improve security at Boise Cascades sawmill. Boise will pay for the project, which will cost $55,614.

The council approved annexation of 5.06 acres of vacant land on L Avenue but delayed annexing 7.32 acres on S. 20th Street, south of Gekeler Lane, because of an access problem.