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Empty spaces

It has been suggested that, once formed, members of the proposed Keizer Economic Development Commission (KEDC) get on a bus and take an inventory of vacant office and retail spaces in the city, as one of their duties.

In our view a bus nor a commission is needed to see what office and retail spaces are available in Keizer, especially along the main commercial thoroughfare, River Road. A five minute drive from one end of River Road to the other will reveal the inventory of empty spaces as noted by the for lease signs. Generating an inventory is as easy as telephoning the leasing agents and getting needed information.

What information will be compiled?  The commission should end up with a list of commercial spaces that would, in part, include square footage amenities, parking, the rate lessor is seeking and location. The most important information would be the impedimets to leasing an empty space. If a space has been empty for more than a few months, the commission needs to hear from the leasing agent why that is so.

What should the commission do with the information it gathers? It would be too easy to let it languish on a shelf.  Though the city staff is stretched with a number of active projects, the Community Development Department will have to oversee the commission and assure that doesn’t end up a dead end body that has good intentions.

That’s why the make up of the commission is vital to its own success and the success of its mission recruit businesses to Keizer as well as to retain and attract living wage jobs. The mission of the commission is specialized and should be put in the hands of professionals and experts—that means developers, real estate brokers and business owners.

City officials and civic leaders can speculate all they want about why more businesses don’t move into Keizer along River Road, but until they hear it directly from the agents who work with the people making location decisions, it’s all conjecture.

While it may be inclusive to appoint residents to the Economic Development Commission, it’s really not a good fit. Every move made by a commission doesn’t have to be vetted by a citizens group every step along the way. Let the professionals do what they do best, let the commission create a plan of action, then the public can weigh in when the issue is brought before the planning commission and evenutally the city council.