Op-Ed Commentary by, Robert J. Shaw, Managing Partner of TimberMill Shores
Dear Fellow Citizens,
I write you today asking for your support of the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application for the DHS facility at TimberMill Shores. While there has been vocal opposition to this application by Sky Lakes Medical Center and Klamath Works, I am hopeful you can recognize that the vision of Klamath Works is only one of many visions present in this community. I will provide you with an alternative point of view, and the facts and information as we now know them, which I hope will help you understand that the proposed DHS project is essential to revitalization and development in the downtown area.
TimberMill Shores also has a vision for the community, for our development, and for the growth and prosperity of Klamath Falls. TimberMill was once home to Modoc Lumber and has been in my family for over 70 years. For the last 22 years we have invested substantially to clean up the site from a vacant brownfield to Klamath’s first mixed- use zone. We recognize the uniqueness of this property and believe in economic impacts it could have for our community. We have been diligent and deliberate in preparing this development.
Since the announcement of this impressive building, and the higher paid employees it will bring, there now is a hotel and two restaurants that have moved forward with offers. Additionally, Peoples Bank purchased a lot directly across the street from the proposed DHS building.
What the community may not know is the current agreements and offers are contingent on the DHS building being located at TimberMill. I can share that I met with the hotel developer recently and their plans are very impressive. The hotel developer has stated they are keenly watching this situation and will not close on their lot without the DHS project moving forward. Sky Lakes attempt to slow progress for Rubicon Investments on this project is slowing progress for the TimberMill Shores development and Klamath Falls as a whole. If the City denies this application, TimberMill will lose two committed restaurants, a Marriott brand hotel, and two other developments currently being negotiated. Beyond that, downtown Klamath Falls will be negatively affected and once again back to waiting for the next opportunity to help revive our downtown.
Not only is this development a dream of my family’s, but also many community members. Many are asking me to reach out and let the community and City Council know that we would love to see this unfortunate situation laid to rest, the DHS project move forward, and allow the development to take advantage of the momentum we are currently experiencing.
Many in our community are asking for new restaurants, shops, condominiums etc. These are the attractive components to a mixed-use community. What some do not realize is that the office component of a mixed-use community is critical to its financial viability. To make a mixed-use community work, we need workers who will be some of the very people eating, shopping and living here. What I have struggled with for many years (beyond the recession we have endured) is attracting a larger developer that will take a chance on Klamath Falls and help bring an attractive office/commercial component to TimberMill Shores. Rubicon has stepped up to this call, in many ways. This building has raised the awareness of many developers, representing the other uses desired by many in our community. Also, this building will be an asset even after DHS vacates the building. What many do not realize is that the things people want in TimberMill will not locate here first, or by themselves. I can assure you, this government office building will be the catalyst for resurrecting TimberMill Shores, downtown and surrounding properties.
Contrary to opponent Paul Stewart and a relatively small but vocal group, this building is not a detriment to our development, but instead a catalyst for future growth. This office building supports the very essence of our mixed-use zone’s live/work/play motto we established many years ago within our master planning.
I understand that Sky Lakes is heavily invested in the Klamath Works vision. I am sympathetic to their rejected bid for the DHS regional building, as I too know that the process of bidding is time consuming and costly. However, what has ensued since they lost the bid is mind-boggling to me. The thought that Sky Lakes is spending valuable not-for- profit hospital dollars on attorneys is problematic. Those very dollars could be better used to improve the hospital itself or put toward positive community projects. Instead, they have taken every possible step they can to hinder and delay the project, changing their complaints many times along the way.
It saddens me to see a not-for-profit, community-owned hospital working tirelessly to slow positive growth in a community still recovering from the recession. Many have stopped to ask, with no real answer, what the possible end goal and motivation behind Sky Lakes’ appeal and law suit. After nine months of misinformation from Sky Lakes and Klamath Works supporters, here are the known facts:
There is a $20 million-dollar commitment toward what will be one of the finest buildings in Klamath County.
Vagrants will not be surrounding the building. This building has employees that service Child Welfare/Foster Parents, Self Sufficiency/Families, and Aging and People with Disabilities. Certainly, none of those people should be made to feel unwelcome in the downtown corridor.
It will not be the downfall to TimberMill but instead has already shown it will be a catalyst for other developments.
DHS Employees overwhelmingly prefer to remain downtown.
Approximately 1,500 vehicular trips to the courthouse each month will be saved by being located next to courthouse
Downtown retailers will retain approximately 250 employees downtown.
Neighboring downtown property owners are equally excited as they know other developments will surely spill into downtown.
Sky Lakes’ latest objection and two reasons for appeal are that the building’s use does not meet the zoning requirements and that the parking is not appropriate. Here are the facts: There have been 121 DHS projects across Oregon in the past 44 years. Of those, 100% were permitted as office use. Not one has been classified as social services. Is this small group here in Klamath Falls going to be the first in Oregon to successfully challenge these findings and lose a project all together and all the that benefits for our community? Sky Lakes’ challenges have changed almost week to week., This latest CUP appeal and lawsuit filed by Sky Lakes are last-ditch efforts to stall this great project. “For what purpose”, is what many are asking. This unmerited fight is thwarting our development and the momentum we have finally obtained.
Many of you have businesses here in the community, are neighbors, friends, and acquaintances. We can all agree that we want to see a prosperous and healthy future for Klamath Falls. I hope that you will join me in supporting Rubicon Investments with their efforts to bring our dream for TimberMill to life. Please support them by sending your letters of support to the City Council.
Thank you for your consideration.
Robert J Shaw
Op-Ed Commentary, are professionally written pieces of approximately 750 words, which present an argument and use research to support the stated opinion. Writers are sharing their own personal opinion and not the staff of Klamath Falls News. To submit an editorial click here.
The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints, and official policies of Klamath Falls News.