Thursday, June 24, 2021

Big Plans at Former Nordstom Site - City Council, June 28th - Updated

We may have an answer on the former "Nordstrom mall" and store! A new project for the footprint of the former store itself, and leaving the rest of the mall intact, is in the works.

Question from February 2018

As the Urban Renewal Agency, on Monday Council will consider "an exception to the maximum grant amount for the RDURA Capital Improvement Grant Program for a total grant award of $749,999 for a mixed-use housing project."

The redevelopment plan includes the demolition of the existing building, replacing it with new construction of a 5-story, urban mixed-use building consisting of 162 rental units, ground floor commercial space and approximately 32 on-site parking spaces.

We've seen plans stall and be abandoned before, so we'll have to wait and see for sure. But even so, as a serious proposal this is big news and exciting news for downtown.  This is the kind of thing we need, even if it is all just market-rate housing. And on the surface appears to be a strong candidate for this kind of grant. Probably they would apply for the MUHTIP property tax abatement as well. We need more downtown housing and we need to fill the slack spaces and outright voids.

Separately, it is worth noting that the Historic Landmarks Commission awarded the "Ben Maxwell Award for outstanding example of new construction in a historic district" to the micro-apartments at State and Commercial.

Maybe things are really going to start cooking downtown!

Other items on Council agenda will get a second note, in particular a look at the Capital Improvement Plan, but this was worth a separate, stand-alone mention.

Update, Saturday

Only the former store footprint is in play

The tax lot information suggests only the corner that Nordstrom occupied will be demolished. The rest of the immediately adjoining mall, addressed 480 rather than 420, has separate ownership and is not part of this proposal.

Second Update, Wednesday

They've published the Council meeting and in it was a conceptual site plan the developer presented.

Site plan concept, June 28th

Some brief notes:

  • A five story building, with zero or minimal setback
  • About 30 parking stalls tucked inside, accessed off Center Street
  • Only a small retail space on the ground floor, for a cafe or coffee shop. 
  • Downtown still needs more housing and more residents before the critical mass that will bring a grocery store
  • A rooftop deck - with a gas firepit
  • Council generally very appreciative, noting alignment with Climate Action Plan concepts, and approved the grant with a unanimous vote (2 absent)


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

And an historical note about the demolition that preceded the mall's construction.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Over on FB a person writes;

The Nordstrom building/mall is a separate entity than the Salem Center mall. They are owned by two different people. There are no plans to tear down the Salem Center mall just the Nordstrom building. I want to clarify before rumors start and it hurts the businesses inside.

That is a fair clarification, but there is still some ambiguity. The Salem Center mall is two blocks, the southern portion with the former Nordstrom site, and full block north of Center Street.

It is clear the northern section is not involved here.

But the Staff Report is ambiguous about the southern portion. It does not say anything like "the portion of the mall building only occupied by Nordstrom." And the developer is "DD Salem Center Two, LLC." Because the building had been first named Nordstom Mall, the "Nordstrom building" seemed like it signified the southern portion.

So the scope of any demolition is not exactly clear, and it is possible, I suppose, to jam 162 apartments just on the Nordstrom store footprint.

We will need to see more detail reported by the City or the paper.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The tax lot information suggests the project is only in the footprint of the former store, and does not use any of the immediately adjoining mall.

I like it less now.

From the Staff Report: "The design of the building will include a lobby, rooftop deck, resident community room for gatherings, pet area, dog wash and bike repair, storage and wash station....The residents will be encouraged to use alternative modes of transportation. The lobby will be equipped with a large screen monitor for the purpose of displaying TransitScreen. TransitScreen displays 24/7 real-time arrival information for nearby trains (Amtrak), buses (Cherriots), ridesharing systems (Uber, Lyft) and carsharing companies (Zipcar). The system also gives walking distance and walking times to neighborhood businesses."

But the building will not front Chemeketa or High, and will only be on the zoomy corner of Liberty and Center Street. It's not nearly as friendly to walking and biking and busing as it at first had seemed.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Added site plan concept as presented to Council.