Douglas County made an encouraging move last week when it agreed to sell its property at the corner of Mulholland Drive and Stewart Parkway to Roseburg Honda.
The county showed it’s as interested in helping existing local businesses grow as it has been in bringing outside companies to the area.
The county is offering an incentive to Roseburg Honda if the dealership adds more employees and pays them good wages. For each new employee who is paid at least $51,075 in wages and benefits, Roseburg Honda will receive a $10,000 bonus from the county.
It can keep adding new employees until that incentive reaches $150,000. The dealership has to be serious about hiring and retaining the employees, because they need to stick around for five years for the incentive to kick in.
The bonus would offset the $1.25 million price tag Roseburg Honda agreed to pay for the 4.7-acre parcel. The price negotiated by the county means it sold for slightly more than the property’s real market value assigned by the Douglas County Assessor’s Office. It’s wise the county didn’t accept anything less, because the property has great visibility and value. In a better economy it should have easily sold for its list price of $1.5 million.
The move by Roseburg Honda shows faith in a recovering economy and the number of satisfied Honda owners. The bare land means the dealership will build a showroom that actually has space for cars inside. It should be a relief for the company to move out of its cramped quarters on Oak Avenue in downtown Roseburg. And no longer will car shoppers have to cross a busy Southeast Pine Street to get from the showroom to the car lot.
The Honda dealership will also get exposure along nearby Interstate 5.
What will become of the vacated Roseburg Honda location remains up in the air.
Roseburg businessman Rick Poland owns the land and buildings, and he was ready to lease them out upon the Honda dealership’s move.
Since then he’s learned the state has plans for the car lot in its re-routing of Highway 138 through downtown Roseburg.
“I’m as curious about what’s going to happen as you are,” Poland said.
He thinks there are plenty of possibilities since it’s the area of the Roseburg Blast of 1959. Such historic status could mean there would be grants to put toward the right type of development.
The properties also sit between downtown Roseburg and the South Umpqua River, an area where the city hoped to develop a “string of pearls” to entice locals and visitors alike to appreciate the waterfront and walk downtown to patronize businesses.
We’d like to see a coordinated effort between the city, state and local business owners to achieve some goals of the Waterfront Development Plan. Most important, we want to see the buildings occupied. Already, far too many downtown buildings sit empty.