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July 3, 2014
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State narrows search for DHS office in Roseburg to three

The Oregon Department of Human Services has narrowed its search for a Roseburg office to two vacant privately owned buildings and a publicly owned building that will soon be empty.

The finalists are the old downtown Safeway, the former Douglas Community Medical Center and the county health building, state Department of Administrative Services spokesman Matt Shelby said.

Building owners have been asked to submit proposals by the end of July. The state wants to move into newly renovated offices by July 2015 and lease them for 10 years.

The department plans to consolidate child welfare, vocational rehabilitation and elder protection programs, which are spread out in three buildings across the city.

The department also says it has outgrown its main Roseburg building, a 29,380-square-foot office at 1937 W. Harvard Ave.

The Department of Administrative Services selected the three finalists from among a handful of sites submitted by property owners and development companies.

Two empty lots on Diamond Lake Boulevard and buildings on West Harvard Avenue that house Family Home Furnishings and Bangkok West Cuisine are no longer under consideration.

The Safeway and the hospital building, both privately owned, have been unused for years. The hospital closed in 2000, and Safeway moved to a building on Stephens Street in 2006.

The Douglas County health building on Madrone Street may soon be vacant as well. The county transferred mental health programs to the state this month and will hand over public health programs to the state in October.

Shelby said in addition to their size, the sites were chosen for access to public transit and ease of parking. He said the state also considered whether its choice would improve downtown.

Roseburg City Manager Lance Colley said new occupants for the old Safeway would help downtown and a new purpose for the old hospital would improve the entrance to downtown.

He said the city is not taking a position on which of the three sites the state should choose.

“The redevelopment or additional development of any of the sites will be a boost to the city,” he said.

Colley said that if the state chooses the Safeway site, a town plaza could still be built on an adjacent lot on which sits an empty Rite Aid.

A Portland architecture firm hired by the city recommended that the vacant Rite Aid be torn down to build a plaza.

The Safeway and Rite Aid properties combined are one of three potential sites for a Roseburg health sciences college. Both buildings are owned by the Cedolini family of San Jose.

The department is looking for a building with about 60,000 square feet and space for about 240 parking spaces. The hospital is a bit small, at 45,000 square feet, and the Safeway would likely have to be torn down and replaced to fit the department’s needs.

Douglas County Commissioner Susan Morgan said she believes the state would want the county to renovate the health building. She said county officials haven’t determined whether leasing the building will benefit the county.

“We haven’t gotten to a place yet where we even know if there is a benefit,” she said.

Corvallis-based Innovare owns the former Douglas Community Medical Center.

Innovare President and CEO Justin Hurley said the company is willing to improve the building.

“We’re still having discussions with them about what the vision would look like,” he said.

Several conceptual pictures of a refurbished hospital building have been posted on the company’s website at innovarellc.com/index/#/dana-buckley/.

Shelby said the state won’t know which building will come closest to meeting its needs until the owners disclose how they would fix up their properties.

“We’re kind of between stages right now. By the end of this month, we should have a more clear idea of the options that are before us. Right now, we’re kind of playing the waiting game until those more formal proposals come in,” Shelby said.

• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or ccegavske@nrtoday.com.


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The News-Review Updated Jul 3, 2014 12:25PM Published Jul 5, 2014 09:34AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.