LEBANON — The city of Lebanon is considering developing an urban renewal district that would primarily affect the community's core business district, City Manager Gary Marks told the Linn County Board of Commissioners Tuesday morning.
Called the Lebanon Downtown Urban Renewal Plan, it is being considered in response to results of the community’s 2040 Vision and Community Strategic Action Plan project that took place in 2015-16.
“Residents were concerned about the future of the downtown area,” Marks said. “They see it as the heart of the community. It is the center of social activity and commerce.”
According to Marks, the URD would encompass 51.3 acres and would include the following: Ralston Park improvements; corner ramps on sidewalks per the Americans with Disabilities Act; streetscaping; street reconstruction; design consultation; building restorations; public restrooms and downtown residential development.
If approved the URD would have a maximum indebtedness of $3.6 million.
Lebanon has three Urban Renewal Districts already in place, but this district differs in that it is not primarily to develop infrastructure, which has been the foundation of the other Lebanon URDs.
Those districts have provided water, sewer and street improvements industrial development, as well as the Samaritan Health Sciences Campus on the north side of town.
All three commissioners praised Lebanon’s use of the Urban Renewal District program and its success, but chairman Roger Nyquist noted this proposal differs sharply from the community's traditional programs.
“It’s kind of a beautification project,” Nyquist said.
“Yes, the downtown is already built, but we believe this will provide economic development,” Marks said. “It will never be a large program, but it would provide us with the ability to knock off some low-hanging fruit projects to improve the downtown environment.”
Nyquist praised the Samaritan Health Campus project as “the poster child of urban renewal districts.”
John Lindsey said that Lebanon’s URD programs have been “extremely successful and well organized.”
Marks said the URD would not affect the county’s law enforcement levy, it would reduce taxes to the county by a total of $350,000 over its 25-year lifespan.
The City Council will hold a public hearing and likely vote on the proposal at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the Santiam Travel Station, 750 3rd St.