Major facelift planned for building

By Bill Rautenstrauch, The Observer August 05, 2010 08:31 am
R.M. DESIGNS The New Town Square building at Fourth Street and Washington Avenue is in for a substantial remodel if the City of La Grande approves a $25,000 funding request from developer Al Adelsberger. The architect’s rendering above depicts improvements including reconstructed sidewalk, new lights, and furniture and art work. Adelsberger has suggested a news stand in the vacant space between the Sub Shop and the Yellow Book office.
R.M. DESIGNS The New Town Square building at Fourth Street and Washington Avenue is in for a substantial remodel if the City of La Grande approves a $25,000 funding request from developer Al Adelsberger. The architect’s rendering above depicts improvements including reconstructed sidewalk, new lights, and furniture and art work. Adelsberger has suggested a news stand in the vacant space between the Sub Shop and the Yellow Book office.
The effort to beautify downtown La Grande is in for a big boost, if the city’s Urban Renewal Agency approves a request for funding from a California-based developer.

Al Adelsberger, owner of the New Town Square building at Fourth Street and Washington Avenue, is planning a major exterior remodel along the Fourth Street side of the building. The project, called the New Town Square Streetscape Project, could be complete by the end of the summer.

City Manager Robert Strope said the Urban Renewal Agency — which is also the city council — will consider Adelsberger’s $25,000 funding request in a special meeting Aug. 9.

Adelsberger first met with La Grande Community and Economic Development Director Charlie Mitchell about the proposed project a year and half ago.

In June of this year, the Main Street Design Committee, a part of the La Grande Main Street Program,  looked at the project and approved it, with a few conditions.

Then on July 21, Adelsberger brought the proposal to the city’s Urban Renewal Advisory Commission.

Detailing his vision for the property, he said hopes to create a meandering sidewalk, with a ribbon of stamped concrete to either side. He also proposed new lighting, benches and art work, plus outdoor speakers providing music for passers-by.

Overall, the city likes the project, though Strope said there are a number of sticking points with proposed sidewalk design. Efforts to resolve them are under way.

 “The developer is in discussion with Public Works regarding the specifics of the sidewalk,” said Strope. “City standards have to be taken into consideration. The project needs to meet our criteria,” he said.

Currently, the space between the Sub Shop on Fourth and the Yellow Book office is vacant. Adelsberger suggested the space could be used as a news stand operated by Eastern Oregon University students.

The streetscape project would also feature work by local artists. Adelsberger said he has a relationship with David Manuel, a nationally-known sculptor and owner of the Hot Lake Spring resort in Union County. He said Manuel would have the chance to display work at New Town Square.

Adelsberger said he is committed to working with the local Main Street program, and would install features like benches, trash cans and bike racks that would match Main Street Program design.

The advisory commission recommended the Urban Renewal Agency chip in $25,000 toward the streetscape project. Strope said the city council — which also acts as the Urban Renewal Agency —  will consider final approval during the special URA session.

If the funding request is approved, look for things to happen quickly.

“Contingent on receiving city Urban Renewal dollars, Mr. Adelsberger is ready to begin improvement immediately,” Strope said in a staff report.

An estimate worked up for Adelsberger by GCT land management pegs the project cost at $57,500. Strope said he doesn’t think the estimate is all-inclusive, as the cost of lights is not figured in.

Adelsberger also owns the Town Square building across Fourth Street from New Town Square, a spot recently vacated by Blockbuster Video. He said he plans renovations there as well.

“When an anchor tenant leaves, that creates fright among the other tenants. It is up to the landlord to calm those fears, and that’s the time to invest,” he told the advisory commission.

Both the buildings have basements, and over the years Adelsberger has made them into useable space.

In the portion of the New Town Square building facing Washington, he built a foyer with seating and signage that indicates what businesses are located downstairs.