Oregon City Council recently raised concerns about the unappealing appearance of Kmart, and a nearby rusted outbuilding, on Navarre Avenue.
At a meeting last month, Councilman Dennis Walendzak said he drove past Kmart on a Saturday and thought the number of trucks parked in the store’s parking lot made the site look like a truck stop.
“Do we have any policy in the city that looks at trucks parking overnight in parking lots in our business district?” asked Walendzak. He said about 10 semis were parked in the lot.
Administrator Mike Beazley said Kmart makes space available for overnight truckers. The city’s current zoning code, he added, does not prohibit the trucks from parking in a commercially zoned area.
“If council wishes for this, we will be rolling out some language on a zoning code rewrite in the coming weeks. We can look at that,” said Beazley.
“For some reason,” said Walendzak, “I thought when the Walmart facility came in, there was some discussion on the use of their parking lot, and I wasn’t sure if that was carried over to the business district.”
“I concur with your concerns,” Council President Tom Susor said to Walendzak. He thought the city should send a letter to the owner of the store asking that the property be cleaned up.
“I think we need to let the owner of Kmart property realize that we’re not going to sit back and allow him to deteriorate the neighborhood any more than he already has with his lack of concern for the property out front and the blighted condition of that property,” said Susor. “I see myself as being very pro business. But I’m not very tolerant of those who don’t want to maintain their property. If you’re in the business district, and you don’t maintain your property, it has a negative effect not only on your neighbors, but on this entire community.”
Councilman James Seaman said he agreed with Susor “100 percent.”
“It doesn’t look good there. It really doesn’t,” said Seaman. “But I’m just wondering. Business is not that strong there. Are they getting a fairly significant amount of money for those trucks sitting there? I don’t know. They might be paying Kmart. There’s not a lot of customers there, it seems like. It’s a balancing act. I agree, though, that it doesn’t look well. But what they’re going to say is that their revenues are so down, and they’re getting significant revenues from those trucks. I’m sure they are. They’re not getting enough customers.”
Susor said if the store were more appealing, it may draw more customers.
“Buy a little Spic and Span. We could work on the outside,” said Susor.
Seaman said the vacant outbuilding, which was, at one time, an auto repair shop, could be improved with paint.
“That would make a big difference, right from the get go,” said Seaman.
Councilman Sandy Bihn agreed that the property was unattractive.
“I too have noticed it. I would like to see something proposed in the code that would address that. I think it’s a blight and hurts commercial development in our area. I would like to see something done,” said Bihn.
She asked if the city’s zoning codes address vacant buildings like the outbuilding near Kmart.
“Can something be done? It is a blight and does give the impression when people come here to look at locating commercial/retail that it’s not particularly attractive. That’s for sure,” said Bihn.
“There aren’t a lot of tools available to us now to deal with that building,” said Beazley. “If council works through the zoning changes this fall, that’s something that council can look at. It’s a slippery slope. There’s a challenge crafting that. I’ve been down that slope before.”
Kmart officials did not return a message to The Press for comment.