GRESHAM, Ore. -- Several hours of some demolition work this week will pave the way for what Gresham city officials hope will lead to a safer community in Rockwood.
A lone man was working in a hefty piece of construction equipment Wednesday, taking down what was left of Kasch's Nursery, which went out of business in 2008.
City officials plan to use the space on Northeast 181st Avenue to build a facility that will be 10,000 to 12,000 square feet. The new building will be used by patrol officers, special units and programs and perhaps as a meeting place for public safety-related community functions.
Buying the 2.3-acre parcel of land is part of the city's plan to expand the police services that are run out of the Rockwood Community Office at Southeast 187th and Stark.
"Police were looking for a location on a major street near the Rockwood Town Center that didn't have any conflicts with lightrail," said Michael Parkhurst, Gresham's senior planner for the city's Urban Renewal Grant Program. "And this property was big enough to accommodate a future expansion of the facility."
City officials purchased the space for $775,000 -- money that came from a bond that voters passed in 2003.
"(Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis) has emphasized multiple times that we made a promise to the voters and we're going to deliver on that and build a public safety facility," Parkhurst said. "So this is really sort of the first tangible, visible evidence that the project is moving forward and I think it will be a really powerful statement to the city's commitment to Rockwood ... This is a pretty big milestone for the Urban Renewal Agency."
One of the most interesting aspects of the demolition was that all of the materials from the nursery that were being torn down won't go to waste and will be re-used in a variety of ways. The same firm that was demolishing the nursery Wednesday also took down the old Fred Meyer store in Gresham in 2007.
During the demolition of the Fred Meyer building, the company was able to salvage and re-use more than 90 percent of the materials. Parkhurst said he hasn't heard the official re-use numbers yet from the nursery building because demolition is still underway, but he's interested to hear what the re-useage numbers will be.
While demolition work will be completed by the end of the week, city officials are working toward coming up with an official design of the new building. City officials solicited public input in the beginning stages of the new building's design.
"I don't know if vision is too strong of a word, but the community definitely had input as to what they'd like to see here in the community," said Laura Bridges-Shepard, the city's communication manager. "I think that's pretty important."
City officials hope to have their design finalized by this fall before they will send it out to be bid on by sub-contractors. City officials have already hired a construction manager and that manager will actually be the one who puts out the sub-contractor work out to be bid upon. Once a bid is accepted, officials hope construction of the new facility will begin in early 2013.
"We may get into site work before the end of the year, but the actual building will start going up in January," Parkhurst said. "That's the current schedule, anyway."
Whether the construction runs on time or may hit a few snags, it's clear that the city's effort to transform the community into a safer environment is underway.
"This is going to create a public safety presence into the urban renewal area, which was one of our goals in our renewal plan that voters voted on," Bridges-Shepard said.