Bend eyes new effort to sell Juniper Ridge parcels

Big infrastructure costs have long parked vision

BEND, Ore. - The Bend City Council will revisit a frustrating chapter in recent city history later this month: its efforts to promote and sell land at city-owned Juniper Ridge, on the city's northern edge -- and take public testimony while being asked whether to step up efforts to sell several parcels there.

A legal notice issued Friday said the council will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 21 "to adopt a procedure and establish a program" for selling seven lots at Juniper Ridge, the 1,500-acre, still-mostly vacant land that was given to the city by Deschutes County back in 1990.

At the hearing,, officials said, councilors will take public testimony "on the desirability of establishing a procedure" for the sale of the seven available lots in the so-called "employment subdistrict" of Juniper Ridge.

"The city council will determine after the hearing whether to adopt a procedure and establish a program by which the property will be sold," the legal notice stated.

When the council got a previous update on Juniper Ridge, in the fall of 2015, seven parcels were up for sale, at $7 a square foot, in the roughly 500 of the 1,500 acres already within the city's urban growth boundary.

At the time, city staff said the parcels hadn't sold due to the demand, size and sale price.

The city did earlier sell 12 acres to Les Schwab for its new corporate headquarters, and other parcels to Suterra Corp. and Pacific Power, all at then-current market prices for industrial land.

One key barrier to developing the mixed-use vision for Juniper Ridge has been the tens of millions of dollars in long-standing sewer and road needs, critical to make the site more attractive for developers.

Back in 2015, City Manager Eric King said he hadn't heard much direction from councilors to make it a higher priority. He added, "It's hard to get a master developer until we get more clarity on those big infrastructure issues."

City Economic Development Director Carolyn Eagan did note that as land prices were rising in Bend, the asking price for the Juniper Ridge parcels had become comparable to other industrial lots selling in the city.

A city Website summary of Juniper Ridge noted that a key hurdle is the need for an estimated $40 million project at the Highway 97-Cooley Road intersection, to handle additional traffic, before much rezoning could occur, due to the state's Transportation Planning Rule.

The road and sewer development costs and lengthy timeline also played a key role in prompting OSU-Cascades to build its four-year on Bend's Westside, rather than at Juniper Ridge.

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