February 06, 2002 11:00 pm

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

We would like to get going as quickly as possible. We would like to get started this year, developer Dennis Sivers told the La Grande City Council Wednesday night as his firm was approved to purchase and redevelop the Bohnenkamp site.

The D.W. Sivers Co. of Portland was one of two companies that presented proposals to develop the site on Adams Avenue where the former upscale interior furnishings store burned April 4, 1994.

Sivers told the council, There is some uncertainty in the financing of the project, but he agreed to buy the 80- by 110-foot lot from the city for $28,600 and to put in a three-story building.

There would be retail on the first floor and offices or residences above, he said.

Sivers said after the meeting that he has three prospective occupants already making inquiries.

With the councils approval, he can begin the design and permit process. Councilors assured him they could speed along the permitting.

Sivers said his budget for the project is more than $3 million.

The Urban Renewal Advisory Commission, which studied two proposals, liked the Sivers project over that presented by Telos Development Co. of Salem because Sivers presented a shorter timeline for beginning work and did not rely on low-income housing tax credits or other grants for funding, which could take time to acquire.

Councilors liked the sketch of the proposed building front Sivers presented, but it will have to pass review by local and state historical committees.

The request for proposals on the project called for a project that reflects the pedestrian values of a traditional historic downtown environment and provides a street frontage that promotes a high level of pedestrian interest.

The council unanimously and enthusiastically endorsed the motion to move forward with the project.