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Development news tops Year in Review

It should probably be no surprise that the three biggest stories of 2018 had to do with development. It’s something of a sign regarding how starved Keizer is for a diversity in shopping, eating and entertainment. But big things were happening outside that realm as well. For the first time in years, thanks to a parks services fee, the city officials got to argue what work it wanted to do in its parks instead of how to say, ‘No.’ A equal fee helped fully staff the Keizer Police Department in almost a decade. There were some hits, one enormous miss, and a lot in between. This is the year that was 2018 in Keizer news. 

In-N-Out plans Keizer location

In August, a development manager for In-N-Out Burger quietly took a seat in front of the Keizer City Council and announced the corporation was looking place its first Portland-area location in Keizer Station. 

“The Keizer location will serve as a new benchmark and entry into Portland and other metropolitan areas,” said Kori Seki. 

Seki dropped the news because the business needed a sign code adjustment allowing for additional signage on awnings. One of the signature markings on In-N-Out buildings is palm trees along the edges of its awnings and it wouldn’t have been allowed under previous rules. 

Keizertimes posted the news on Facebook within minutes and, by the following morning, the news had spread across every major news outlet in the Willamette Valley and some even further afield. 

Earlier in December, In-N-Out filed location plans with the city. The restaurant will be 3,995 square feet with a drive-thru and outdoor seating. The address will be 6280 Keizer Station Blvd, behind Outback Restaurant. The plans will now go through permitting and be assessed system development charges.

In-N-Out serves up burgers, fries and shakes with a not-so-secret assortment of special orders. 

Waremart by Winco arrives

Keizer residents and Winco shoppers from all around rallied to bring a version of the discount grocer to the Iris City. The idea’s champions found out in 2016 that their calls had been heard, but the doors didn’t open until 2018. 

With more than three dozen early, eager shoppers lined up outside the entrance to Keizer’s newest grocery store, Waremart by Winco, store manager Derrick Dukes unlocked the doors 30 minutes earlier than planned. Traffic into the store was non-stop for several days as the regulars and the curious stopped in to see what Waremart brought to Keizer. 

The store ended a drought in grocery shopping options within city limits. Roth’s IGA closed in 2012 reducing Keizer to just Safeway and Albertsons. Albertsons and Safeway then merged and Albertsons closed its Keizer location in 2015. The former Albertsons at Creekside Shopping Center was converted to a Haggen, as the Washington-based grocery store chain undertook an ambitious growth streak to take advantage of the merger between Safeway and Albertsons. Haggens’ plans fell apart spectacularly and, by September 2016, Haggen closed.

Cinema deal unspools

There were building plans in the can, a signature on a lease and promises of recliner seating and the ability to pick your spot without a mad rush. Then, with something like Thanos’s snap, it all went away. 

We’re talking, of course, about the Keizer Station cinema deal that dissipated when construction costs soared above expectations. After more than two years of planning, cinema owner Chuck Nakvasil pulled the plug on plans to locate a cinema off Keizer Station Boulevard in July 2018. 

Nakvasil cited “substantially higher” bids for construction of the nine-screen complex as the reason for pulling out of the lease. The termination was permitted under the terms of a lease agreement with the city that was contingent on successful financing of the project. Nakvasil had to have a signed lease to apply for financing and confirmed bids to finalize the financing of the project. 

The deal would have been a first for the city, which planned to retain ownership of the property and use the income to help offset payments to the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). Some limited improvements were made to the property in anticipation of the cinema construction. Keizer City Manager Chris Eppley hoped that those efforts would make the space more appealing to the next business with an interest in the space.