Corvallis Business: 10 Story Building Rumors, the Parking Problem, RiverFront II, Childcare and Staffing

The rumor mill continues about a new building coming to town. This alleged building will be built on Harrison between Second and Fifth, and will have 10 floors and no green space. As the rumors grew, we went to Rian Amiton, a Senior Planner in the Planning Department for some answers.

It starts with the new Commercial Mixed Use (CMU) Zones. As we mentioned before, the CMUs are focused on encouraging the construction of housing above street level businesses in the city center corridor as a way to create a sense of community. How has it changed how construction will happen?

To begin with, CMU rezoning changed the maximum height for buildings from 75 feet to 105 feet. If an average floor to a building is 15 feet, the original 75 foot limit will provide a builder with about five floors to work with. The new limit will therefore allow for about seven floors at 15 feet per floor. However, it is possible for a builder to make plans that would provide more floors within that 105 feet – in fact, an average 10 storey building is only 108.3 feet high – giving a builder 3.3 feet to between 10 feet divide floors for just under four inches per floor less space. In addition, Oregon building codes require only six-foot-eight-inch residential ceiling heights.

Another piece of the rumor says that there will be no requirement for green space around this new building. How can this be? Although we all like to see trees and grass around the business districts, there are very few places in the city center with real green space requirements.

The central business zone and riverfront zone – which means the area south of Polk – do not require green space. The Central Business Fringe Zone does require 25% green space, but it is not much of the total downtown area. In other words, the green spaces that locals are so accustomed to are technically green by the builder or business owner’s choice.

Business leaders in Corvallis see the issue of green space as a very important topic. “Green space downtown manifests itself differently than it does in the suburbs,” said Kate Porsche of the Economic Development Office.

“That space is going to look very different in a downtown area because your expectation is different,” said Christina Rehklau of Visit Corvallis. “It’s going to be more compact and dense.”

“If you look at the core of our downtown, Corvallis has done a wonderful job of creating green space with the park along the riverfront, the way we have our street trees that provide shade and green space downtown is also about the collection of spaces, “Porsche added.

CMU effects on downtown relaxation: Of course, more street-level businesses of downtown buildings mean an additional need for parking.

Brad Attig of Corvallis Foundry noted that when we start building more parking lots – like the one created when the Burger King was converted into a Chase bank – we welcome side effects like more heat in the heart of the city . He said the answer to the need for parking is to build more density parking along the edges of the core.

“More parking means more cars and means it’s less walkable and less fun,” he said. “The businesses have two sides to the coin… ‘Our customers want easily accessible places to park, but people also want to come down here and relax and meander and shop.’ I do not think we have done a good job in this community [providing] high density parking on the edge, [providing] more collection space in the core, and to find out the whole model. ”

Attig also noted that the city has alleys that are not used to their full potential.

Can RiverFront II be on its way: When asked what type of businesses will bring visitors to the core, Rehklau said that preference should be given to targeting the business influx to what will benefit residential areas to create foot traffic.

“Especially because … in June, 40% of the Corvallis population leaves the building and only returns in September,” she said. This means that Visit Corvallis tries to concentrate their efforts on those months when things are quieter “because the season is good here, and to help with those foot traffic.”

In the research that Rehklau’s group did, they found that the city center and riverfront areas are what visitors like best. She became a proponent of “RiverFront II” as a way to increase revenue for the local small business owner, as well as to bring in buyers – whether it be Corvallis residents or tourists.

Childcare a composite problem for rent: One of the major problems businesses face in hiring new employees is the ability for those employees to find childcare nearby.

You’ve heard it before and the song remains the same: Oregon is a child care desert. The Lawyer sat down with several local people in the childcare industry to talk about solutions, but the only one that really works is to get more people who can keep kids safe.

Attig has seen that many companies do not realize that they do not get middle-level applicants to apply to their companies because they do not have access to affordable childcare. “People simply cannot get childcare to accept the job,” he said.

Samantha Alley of RE / MAX Real Estate noted that many of the childcare we have in this area is small, individual and often home-based care – below the limit set by the state to require them to be zoned as commercial childcare centers. Many of these businesses disappeared during the pandemic.

“They are basically closed unless they have met [Covid] criteria, and if you did childcare at home … it was really hard to meet those criteria, so many of those people just left and it’s going to take a while to rebuild people who have that desire and are willing to to take that risk, ”Alley added.

Porsche has the Oregon Cascades West Board of Governors (COG) which has put together a working group focused on child care for the region – meaning outside Benton County to include Linn and Lincoln counties, as well as a bit of Lane County. One goal is to create space for larger centers while promoting the smaller, home centers, all in collaboration with the childcare facilities located within Oregon State University and Linn Benton Community College.

“Barriers to access to this area are low, but regulatory issues are very difficult and can be challenging to navigate,” Attig added. “This is the money side that usually becomes the real problem when you want to open something. [20+] children.”

Attig spoke about a system that companies have started in southeastern Oregon where they will book a certain number of places in a child care center for a year. The places are then offered to employees at a discounted rate. The goal is to ensure that the centers have filled enough guaranteed slots to keep them in business as they grow. The fringe benefit is that the employees get lower childcare costs and a good reason to stay with their employer.

District Border Maps: The Corvallis Ward border maps has been officially rearranged to present the latest census data. There are nine wards, each with approximately equal numbers of residents.

The Ward System was established to create equality in the voting process. If there are issues you would like to see addressed to your business, the elected representative for your ward will be the first step in getting the issue to the City Council.

The new wards will technically take effect on July 5, 2022, although the 2013-2022 maps will be considered valid until the end of 2022.

Room facilities: Things happening at or through the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce this week include:

Webinar Webinar – presented by the Chamber to help each member maximize their web presence on the Chamber’s pages, this virtual class will be held on July 6 from 17:00 – 18:00. The class takes 30 minutes, leaving enough time for questions. Register here for this event.

Wine & Mastermind – Spend an evening chatting business, brainstorming the keys to success, and drinking a glass of wine from Vulcan Cellars, located at 341 SW 2nd St., Suite 3, Corvallis. Register here for this event.

Crazy days – a three-day event in support of local businesses, this sidewalk sale that is wild will take place July 8-10. Participating businesses include RESTYLE – Corvallis, The Inkwell Home Store, Visit Corvallis, The Toy Factory, Sibling Revelry, The Golden Crane, Heartland Humane Society, Burlap & Lace, Runway Corvallis, Running Princess, Donna Bella Lingerie, and the Whiteside Theater .

Find the QR code on the Chamber’s website to get the complete list of participants.

Leadership Corvallis – there are still openings in the latest Leadership Corvallis courses. Sign in here.

By Sally K Lehman

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