City playing small role in vacancy

Written by Kelly Ducote, The Observer November 18, 2013 09:23 am

Mt. Emily Ale House on Adams Avenue in downtown La Grande sits empty after closing on Nov. 4. Officials hope the vacancy is filled soon but donít have a specific plan in place to get someone new in. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
Mt. Emily Ale House on Adams Avenue in downtown La Grande sits empty after closing on Nov. 4. Officials hope the vacancy is filled soon but donít have a specific plan in place to get someone new in. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
 

Downtown officials say city usually does not get involved with filling vacancies

Despite shuttered doors and a darkened corner of downtown, City of La Grande officials are not dedicating a ton of time to filling a big vacancy on Adams Avenue. 

Mt. Emily Ale House, after five years of business, shut its doors Nov. 4. The building, which sits at the corner of Adams Avenue and Depot Street, now sits darkened.

Officials, though hopeful that it will soon be filled, are not playing a direct role in getting a new business moved in downtown.

“It’s overall a hit to downtown,” said Saira Siddiqui, La Grande Main Street’s coordinator.

Siddiqui, who started the job at the end of October, said she has not been in her position long enough to really be able to help the situation. She has not yet met with her business development committee. They plan to meet this week.

“Our focus is to present the building in a way that people want to fill it,” Siddiqui said. “If anyone is looking, Main Street would love to help.”

The coordinator said she has heard of some people looking at the building at 1202 Adams Ave.

“We want to see our downtown businesses full,” Siddiqui said.

La Grande Community and Economic Development Director Charlie Mitchell said the city does not usually get directly involved with filling vacancies but said he works with Main Street, the Union County Chamber of Commerce and other economic development groups to fill vacancies.

“We all work together. It’s kind of a shortcoming, I guess you could say, that we don’t have a proactive strategy for filling vacancies,” he said.

Mitchell, however, did say that he worked with Mt. Emily owner Jerry Grant on some strategies to sell the pub.

“We weren’t successful, but I did make that connection,” Mitchell said. 

Mitchell said sometimes vacancies are quickly filled, but the Ale House building is tough in that it is larger and uniquely configured.

The 9,300-square-foot building is listed by Re/Max at $845,000, a price Siddiqui and Mitchell said may be a little high for those looking in the area. The listing says the sale includes the building, business, all equipment and some training. 

Grant closed the business in order to be with his wife, who lives outside the area, he said when he announced he was closing this summer. 

Grant also cited a tumultuous relationship with the city and Main Street as reasons for wanting to leave.

“This experience has been a journey through which we have learned, sometimes struggled, yet ultimately become richer in spirit and wiser in many ways,” Grant said in a press release about the closure.

Mitchell said having a brewpub has been good for the city.

“I think we’re in a day and age where, especially in Oregon, having a brewpub in your community is almost expected. It’s a sought after commodity,” Mitchell said. “Hopefully, the market will allow one to come in.”

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter @lgoDucote.