City News, ECONOMY

BUILDING SALEM: Former Green Thumb storefront to become “Retro Electro” retail, apartments

Editor’s note: Building Salem is a new twice-monthly feature from Salem Reporter intended to highlight planned building projects around the city. Is there a building going up you’re curious about? Let us know by emailing [email protected].

Name: Retro Electro

Project type: Renovation and new construction, apartments and retail

Location: 236 Commercial St. N.E. (downtown)

Cost: $5 million, including $1.3 million building purchase

Estimated completion: 2025

Units: 16 apartments, a mix of studio, 1 and 2 bedroom, all market rate

Description: The former home of Green Thumb florists, also known as the England-Wade historic building, is getting a facelift. 

The storefront has sat vacant since the garden store moved out last year. The historic 1887 building will be renovated to host a combination laundromat-bar and other retail, with four apartments on the second floor.

An adjoining corrugated metal “shed” facing Electric Alley, which wasn’t being used, will be demolished and replaced with a 12-unit apartment building. Wood from the demolition will be salvaged for reuse elsewhere.

A storage area adjoining a historic building at 236 Commercial St. N.E. in downtown Salem has sat vacant. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

The new building will also feature a rooftop deck for residents.

It’s the latest project of Salem developer Charles Weathers, who’s also behind the Fork Forty food hall, and the renovation of the former Whitlock’s store that’s currently underway at 455 Court St N.E. (The laundromat-bar was originally slated for the Whitlock property on Court Street, but Weathers said it was a better fit on Commercial Street.)

The apartments will have alley access. The alley is one of the most dynamic in downtown Salem, featuring the Cozy Taberna and Flowers in the Alley. 

“Everything’s cooler in an alley,” Weathers said.

Charles Weathers, a Salem develop, points out features of the historic England-Wade building at 236 Commercial St. N.E. Weathers is developing the property into retail with apartments above. (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.