City News

City selects developers for Block 50 downtown

City officials have selected developers to turn a vacant city-owned downtown block into a mix of apartments, businesses and public space.

The city of Salem plans to partner with two northwest development firms, Portland-based Edlen & Co. and deChase Miksis, which has offices in Eugene, Bend and Boise. The developers have jointly developed projects throughout the Pacific Northwest.

The block, between Northeast Commercial, Chemeketa, Front and Center streets, is one of the largest undeveloped properties downtown. It formerly hosted the Union Gospel Mission’s men’s shelter, Saffron Supply and ABC Music Buildings.

“Developing BLOCK 50 is a milestone for our downtown revitalization. It’s an exciting project that I hope sparks even more development in the future. We are working tirelessly to support housing and economic development in this city, it’s great to see it pay off,” said Salem Mayor Chris Hoy in a statement from the city.

The urban renewal agency began purchasing lots on the block in 2019, and its buildings were completely demolished by 2023. City leaders started seeking developer proposals this summer.

The city hopes that the project will be a catalyst and model for revitalizing downtown, according to its list of site goals. South downtown has seen new apartment buildings, a hotel and other major developments in the past five years, while north downtown has had comparatively fewer projects.

It’s been a goal for the city’s downtown for nearly a decade, said Kristin Retherford, the city’s community planning and development director in a statement.

“It’s both exciting and rewarding to see their vision move from concept to reality, and for our urban renewal program to bring new life and opportunity to this area,” she said.

The project would have a minimum of 15% of its apartments be affordable. Read more about how the city defines affordability here.

The city’s announcement did not include an estimate of how many apartments or businesses the development will include or a construction timeline. City officials and the developers did not immediately respond to Salem Reporter’s request for more details. 

The selected firms focus on housing, sustainability and social impact according to their websites. DeChase Miksis is also working to develop the Steam Plant, a historic riverfront structure in downtown Eugene, into a mixed office and retail space. Edlen & Co’s projects include a planned development of Portland’s OMSI district to include 1,200 apartments.

The city’s Urban Renewal Agency board, which is the city council, will consider a memorandum of understanding with Edlen & Co. and deChase Miksis on Monday.

READ IT: Urban Renewal Agency agenda

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said that the project would have 30% of its apartments be affordable. It will be around 15%. Salem Reporter apologizes for the error.

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-575-1251.

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.