first_img Email Cascade Business News recently caught up with Redmond City Manager Keith Witcosky – who has won widespread approval for his inclusive team-building leadership style and engagement of the public in topical conversations during his first year at the municipal helm – to reflect on some external strategic goal highlights for the next annual cycle.High on the list for the short-term horizon is groundwork for the planned transformation of the former Redmond Union High School/Evergreen Elementary into a new City Hall, in conjunction with other compatible uses and tenants, as part of a continued reinvigoration of the downtown core.The Evergreen site, which covers a city block on the west side of the central area, was purchased by the City for $250,000 in 2010, in part spurred by community support for the move, including a citizens task force petitioning to save the historic building first constructed some 94 years ago.Witcosky said, “We are pursuing a Contract Manager/ General Contractor (CMGC) design build process and aim to put a team together by the end of this year. The first step would be internal demo work next spring, with a view to having the building remodeled as public space some time in 2017.“There is a lot of local support for repurposing the property while observing its connection with the community’s history, and we want to be respectful of that by gathering input from interested parties and, for example, visiting other similar historic renovations to learn from their process as the project unfolds.“The initial investment will be limited to $10 million regarding the main building, with a further phase relating to surrounding outbuildings to be addressed in the future.“This project will continue to create energy in the downtown core, and we owe it to local businesses and the community to strive to keep expanding and freshening up that area.”Long-time Oregonian Witcosky, who has substantial experience in urban renewal planning as part of his previous 16-year stint with the Portland Development Commission, said a relocation of City Hall could free up the council’s current properties for civic or private redevelopment, including possible mooted ideas such as a new movie theater.Another upcoming project he views as a “difference maker” for downtown is the acquisition of the historic “Redmond Hotel” by Portland entrepreneurs Mark and Leisa Bates, who plan to transform the 86-year-old 6th Street landmark into a boutique accommodation hotspot with the help of a forgivable loan from the City as part of a council “jumpstart” program initiative aimed at catalyzing economic growth.The Bates’, who run a successful marketing business focusing on the hotel industry, have already garnered acclaim for development of The Orenco, a luxury brownstone hotel in Hillsboro featuring integration of suite amenities they have either enjoyed or wished for during their extensive travels around the world.The couple, who are long-time friends with those well-known imaginative rehabilitators of historic properties the McMenamin brothers, promise to bring a similar creative talent to the Redmond project, with potential feasible ideas to be explored including a rooftop bar and basement soaking pool.Witcosky said: “They are phenomenal operators and this is an exciting project which could feature 35 to 45 rooms and bring additional energy downtown, including drawing visitors to local restaurants and other amenities.”He said another tack which could boost pedestrian traffic downtown was touted initiatives to stimulate more residences in that area, while on the wider front the City has upgraded building design standards and was looking at incentives to provide for more affordable housing.Public amenities were set for a major boost with the upcoming rehabilitation of Sam Johnson Park, to feature a multi-faceted activity center and playground slated to be the largest fully accessible children’s playground in the state, with plaudits due the community in general and the Kiwanis volunteer organization in particular for leading fundraising efforts.Concepts for the design of improvements for the southern gateway to the city are also being explored in conjunction with ODOT, landowners and groups such as a Project Advisory Committee, in a bid to make the South Highway 97 corridor more aesthetically pleasing, safer and more productive for associated businesses. The entrance to the city heading north is planned to have more definition with flags, floral landscaping and new city signage.Witcosky hailed parallel initiatives to foster further economic development and stimulate employment opportunities, such as the newly zoned 465 acres of Eastside industrial land that will include parcels of 30-50 acs for attracting larger scale industrial and manufacturing companies, and the “Southwest Area Plan” which looks to pave the way for vibrant mixed-use development in a quadrant bordering Ridgeview High School.Observing that positioning as a regional player to attract large lot industrial prospects on a “shovel ready” basis requires significant preparatory work, Witcosky added, “We have to address infrastructure planning to make sure we have adequate capacity if opportunities come up.“We have great partners at the state level such as Business Oregon and with regional economic development agencies and need to invest wisely in long-range public facilities plans to make sure we keep ahead of the curve.“With the help of dynamic groups like Redmond Economic Development Inc. (REDI) we also need to maintain good relationships with local companies to make sure firms that grow in the city have the tools to stay here, and we are moving in the direction of new technologies where Redmond has a niche in the business layer.”He looked forward to additional development opportunities on land overseen by the municipal airport, and to the completion of some $20 million in runway improvements to reinforce the regional transportation hub’s ability to continue to grow traffic.Mass transit questions were also on the agenda, with Witcosky commenting, “On a regional level we are also working with the City of Bend in looking at how mass transit fits in to a very vehicle-oriented environment, and how we address the needs of a growing community.“It is not a ‘no-brainer’ like in other communities in the state such as Eugene, but a lot of people may prefer expanded options for public transit, for example between Redmond and Bend.”Witcosky praised the new Technology Education Center on COCC’s Redmond campus for its lead in providing advanced skills for entrants to the modern workforce. He added: “We see lots of opportunities for working with the college further, especially since as a regional hub we are accessible for a number of different surrounding communities.”At the internal level, Witcosky, who has instituted broad-based staff meetings as part of a hands-on approach, sees investment in City employees and attention to the workplace culture and environment as key ingredients. He said, “Tomorrow’s leaders are here.”We need to throw challenges to staff and be challenged together with maintaining an open dialog. Every component is important in combining our strengths as a team toward a common goal, with a particular focus on job satisfaction and customer service orientation.“Our council is rock solid; they ask the hard questions and trust staff, and keep the City moving forward.“This is an exciting time for the community and we want to be known as a family-friendly city that cares about jobs, the environment and quality of life.” Redmond, Oregon Sets Path for Community Growth, City Chief Highlights Future Focus as Progress Continues on Many Fronts Pinterest Tumblr Keith Witcosky, Redmond City Manager By Simon Mather CBN Feature Writer 0 Twitter Facebook Google+ Share. E-Headlines LinkedIn on September 18, 2014last_img

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