News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Planned development will add housing

Sisters could see 250 to 300 new homes in the next couple of years as plans get underway for the development of 31 acres of land along Pine Street and Highway 20.

Kevin Eckert of Build LLC is designing the project for Paul Hodge and Paul and Carla Schneider of Sisters, who purchased the property that was formerly part of the U.S. Forest Service administrative site because, as Eckert says, “they just saw an opportunity for positive growth.”

Hodge, who is CEO of Laird Superfood, has long been an advocate for workforce housing that will allow people who work for a paycheck in Sisters to live in Sisters.

Eckert said that the Sisters Woodlands development, bounded by Pine Street, West Barclay Drive and Highway 20 (see map) will feature “cottage development” of approximately 1,500-square feet each utilizing shared open space; townhomes and home-over-garage units; and apartment or condominium-style units along Highway 20 with a significant setback from the road.

“We’ve almost ruled out doing true single-family (housing),” Eckert told The Nugget. It’s just not affordable. It’s the most expensive housing you can build.”

Eckert said that the cottage development plan will allow the preservation of somewhere around 200 trees.

Eckert said that an application is in process at City Hall and the planning commission should meet on the project in August and the developers hope to be through the planning process by October or November. Actual development is a ways off. Eckert said the fastest possible timeline to put shovels in the ground is late summer 2021.

The Forest Service Sisters Ranger District Headquarters will remain where it is now located, but new facilities will be built. According to Sisters District Ranger Ian Reid, that project, too, will begin at the earliest in 2021.

Maintaining its longtime Sisters location marks a change of plans for the Forest Service, who originally intended to sell the entire 80-acre administrative site and move its headquarters to a parcel of land on the west end of Sisters just beyond the GrandStay Hotel.

“We’re not going to move,” Reid told The Nugget. “We’re retaining 12 acres of what we call Parcel 2.”

He said the costs and logistics of a move proved not to be viable.

“The site development was going to be pretty expensive, with highway improvements that were going to be required and utilities out there,” he said.

Instead, the USFS is in the process of contracting out a site plan that will feature a warehouse and vehicle garage and a new headquarters building on the current site. Staff will continue working at the existing office until the new one is built. The warehouse will likely be built first, Reid said.

Eckert described the cottage development as “a much more challenging kind of construction” than a conventional housing development, because it is not just a matter of clearing the site and laying in a grid.

Though 250 to 300 housing units is a lot in a Sisters development, Eckert said, “it will feel very loose because of the open space and the trees. It’s hard to describe. Our goal is, before the planning commission (hearing) we can have some sort of representation so people can wrap their brains around that.”

The architect and designer said that the project will also feature some commercial development. The exact nature of that has not been determined, but Eckert envisions a kind of “commercial village” that would interact with the residential development.

“I don’t think the town needs a lot more commercial,” he said.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit www.frontierpartisans.com.

 

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