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Day: August 26, 2018

Council to examine growth prospects

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The Keizer City Council and Keizer Planning Commission will discuss some of the preliminary findings of the Keizer Revitalization Plan at a work session Monday, Aug. 27. The meeting begins at 6 p.m.

The revitalization study is looking at potential paths forward in the rejuvenation of the city’s business corridors. At issue Monday will be a Gap Analysis looking at some possible scenarios for accommodating increased development or redevelopment of existing spaces on River Road North and Cherry Avenue Northeast.

The first scenario assumes no changes to current regulations (baseline), the second scenario would result in zoning modifications to encourage density (efficiency measures), the third scenario involves major, strategic zoning changes to increase development (upzoning).

While the city can provide modest incentives for certain types of development – such as reduced system development charges – the reality is that city-defined costs are already relatively low. Growth will depend most on developers willing to take a risk in “a soft but rising market,” according to the report. (See related story: Market headwinds may curb growth)

Here is a rundown of what the various scenarios mean:

BASELINE

If nothing changes, the city will likely continue to develop along the same paths it already has: low-rise wood structures that do not maximize potential uses.

Since costs associated with such development are relatively low, the city has plenty of infrastructure capacity to absorb new development when it happens, but some roads  – particularly major River Road intersections – would be at or near capacity if properties are developed or redeveloped according to current expectations for the next decade.

Under these conditions, the city could expect an increase in retail jobs of approximately 20 percent and an expansion of about 700 households.

EFFICIENCY MEASURES

If the city chooses to adjust current zoning to encourage higher density development and maximum usage of vacant and underdeveloped property, an additional 815 housing units are the result.

This would mean some office spaces are replaced with more mixed use residence/office spaces. Retail jobs would increase another 7 percent, but office jobs would decrease by the same amount.

The most costly infrastructure impact of such changes are that some intersections would need to be upgraded sooner than planned. However, additional public safety and school staff would be needed to accommodate new families.

In the case of police services, Keizer would need to find a way to absorb such costs. The Keizer Fire District and Salem-Keizer School District would need to find the means to accommodate increases within their jurisdictions.

UPZONING

Upzoning would mean strategically changing certain types of development to increase density.

In practical terms, such changes would mean allowing single-family lots to build additional units or construct townhomes; reclassifying some medium density zones as mixed use; consolidating single-family lots along arterial and redeveloping them as multi-story, multifamily buildings; and converting some industrial properties to mixed use.

Moving in this direction would assume that Keizer’s commercial areas offer enough diversity of services that potential residents are willing to pay more to live closer to those areas. But, the changes could result in the addition of almost 2,500 new residential units – mostly multifamily. About 125 new single-family units could also be added. About 2,100 new jobs could be added by adopting this revitalization strategy.

The city would likely need to perform a new transportation system analysis to determine how the growth might affect traffic flow, but most current infrastructure is sufficient.

Police and fire protection services would likely need to expand to accommodate the increased population. Schools would also need to re-evaluate service levels and, possibly, boundaries for individual schools.

Market headwinds may curb growth

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

From the outset of the Keizer Revitalization Plan, Community Development Director Nate Brown has said the city intends “to change the way it does business” with regard to development along River Road. However, the city can change its practices and still find itself in a market unable or unwilling to meet it halfway.

According to a Gap Analysis the Keizer City Council and Keizer Planning Commission will discuss in a work session Monday, Aug. 27, the market to develop or redevelop in Keizer is “soft but rising.”

That conclusion is based on trends in the rental market. An average Keizer rent pencils out to approximately $1.20 per square foot, or $900 a month for a 750-square-foot apartment.

“While it may sound like a lot of money, such rent levels will not justify new construction. Simply put, the rate of return will not be high enough for a bank to loan on a project at that rate,” states the analysis prepared by Otak, Inc., Angelo Planning Group, Johnson Economics, and Kittelson & Associates.

The $1.20 per square foot amount would mean about a 5.8 percent return on investment and builders would likely seek a 10 to 12 percent return before pulling the trigger on a new Keizer project.

Driving up the going rate per square foot would likely also require Keizer’s “downtown” to become a destination space that residents would pay more to be closer to. However, currently the city lacks entertainment options for anyone under the age of 21 and the diversity of services remains somewhat limited overall.

Another hurdle is the city’s low jobs-to-housing ratio. A balanced ratio is considered slightly more than one job per household. Keizer has .48 jobs per household and more than a third of them are in the retail sector. According to the study, economists suggests ideal communities have about 10 percent of their jobs in retail.

Additionally, new and redevelopment could potentially price some Keizer families out of Keizer completely. In the most rosy projections, the city could add as many as 2,500 new residences, but those will most likely come at the expense of those already in the lower income brackets.

“New buildings are generally built at the high end of the price range within the city. Rental residential buildings that redevelop are often also the ones with the lowest monthly rents,” the study suggests.