The site of a future development in Sisters. photo by Jim Cornelius
By John Griffith
The planning commission gave unanimous approval on July 17 to a planned development at the northwest corner of Adams Avenue and Fir Street to be known as Adams Avenue "Commons." The Commons will be a 10-lot master plan development involving three existing lots.
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church is across the street from the northern end of the project, and Mountain High Apartments are to the immediate west of the project.
The 1.5-acre development will include 25 studio apartments, six commercial-lease spaces downstairs with apartments upstairs, and two adult-foster-care homes. The development will also include the use of the current Little Frog Learning Center daycare facility as an office building for the complex.
There will be two interior courtyards and two barbecue facilities with picnic tables.
No onsite parking is planned or required because the development plan was submitted prior to the recent Adams Avenue code change.
The land is owned and being developed by Sam Blackwell, who purchased the land back in 1992. The most recent development was a major upgrade to the daycare facility back in 2005.
Blackwell said, "Since that time (2005) we have been sitting on this parcel of land waiting for the right opportunity for what we envisioned as a transition block between commercial district and residential areas to the north of us.
"We saw this an opportunity to not be tourism-driven, and that would be providing service and opportunities for those that live in Sisters and work in Sisters," he said. "I met with the City to say 'What is it you guys need?'
"The answer was threefold," said Blackwell. "There is a shortage of small apartments that are affordable so people that work here but are not high-income-earners could afford to live here. There is a need for senior housing. There is a need for overnight accommodations."
Blackwell said that at the same time he was approached by David and Leah Tolle, who own and operate Absolute Serenity Adult Foster Care here in Sisters. They indicated that they needed to expand their business, but they couldn't find a way to expand in Sisters so they were going to have to move their business.
"We worked with (them) with the thought of bringing the seniors more into the downtown core," said Blackwell, "basically developing the entire complex to be pedestrian friendly, inviting the seniors into the activities that were surrounding them with a lot of courtyards."
Several people spoke in support of the project. There was only one change request, and that was from Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church.
Paul Jansen spoke for the church in requesting clarification on the parking issue, and asking that there be a moratorium on any noisy commercial construction during church services on Saturday and Sunday. Blackwell had no objection, and the restrictions were included in the final commission vote to recommend approval to the City council.