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Hood River outpaces the state

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Articles - November 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011


The waterfront build-out that is currently under way in Hood River, looking west.

In collaboration with Key Development, both Hood Tech and Turtle Island have invested in green-building methods. Both companies credit Key Development’s Pickhardt with recommending their new properties become LEED-certified buildings. Hood Tech is applying for LEED gold certification. Turtle Island would be only the second food processor in the U.S. and the sixth in the world to be granted LEED platinum status. The food processing facilities will use a solar hot water system that pre-heats water and re-uses heat from the refrigeration system. The property will include a 50-kW solar array, an electric car charging station and a green roof designed to limit storm water overflow, according to Pickhardt. Turtle Island vice president of operations, Jaime Athos, is also working with environmental groups on preserving and enhancing native bird, plant and aquatic habitat on and around the property.

In early October, Key Development signed a non-binding agreement with the port for the construction of a 20,000-square-foot mixed-use office and retail building. In August, Naito Development presented its $15 million development plans for the waterfront in an open town hall meeting and has since shared its proposal in other open forums around town and online. In early October, the company formally submitted its plans to the city for a Hampton Inn hotel with about 85 rooms, a restaurant/café and a cable park. The cable park (a mechanized way to tow people on their kiteboards as they learn), which some community and business leaders are on the fence about, would add another recreational attraction to the Nicolas Boat Basin.

A number of local kiteboarders on a discussion thread about the Naito proposal (nwkite.com) are enthusiastic about the cable park proposal, but others wonder if it will displace other water sports.

“I’m not sure if [Naito’s proposed cable park] will limit waterfront access in the boat basin, for standing paddlers, kayakers and beginning windsurfers,” says Ann Frodel, president of the Hood River City Council. Evaluation of Naito’s plans could take four to six months, according to Michael McElwee, executive director, Port of Hood River.

“If [the cable park] does not get approved we will lose our financing,” says Bob Naito. “We’ll do the hotel, but we’ll have to go back to the drawing board.”

At least one small local business, the Kayak Shed, will likely have to relocate if the cable park is approved.

No one expects waterfront development to slow in Hood River. Other projects planned for this year include the $4 million renovation of the old Expo building. Hood River Distillers also plans a $5.5 million expansion in 2013. According to McElwee, the port and private developers hope to secure $13 million for other waterfront projects.


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