In the small building near the Pepsi plant gates, North Corvallis residents gathered Thursday night to learn the fate of a nearby vacant plot of land: it would contain a new self storage facility called Allied Storage. Lyle Hutchens of DEVCO Engineering, representing the new property owners, Challis Collman Grover, LLC, stood in front of nine neighborhood citizens, including City Councilor Andrew Struthers, to explain the project, including proposed zoning changes to the property. He was joined by other consultants with expertise in various aspects of the project.
The plot is currently zoned both Mixed Use Employment (MUE) and Low Density Residential (LDR), and the owners plan to convert the entire plot to MUE in order to develop the self storage facility. The development plan also includes adding a new local road that would cut through the property to connect NE Belvue Street with NE Jack London Street.
The majority of the plot, roughly eight of ten acres, will be occupied by the storage facility, to be developed immediately after civic authorization for phase I of the project, but the development of the rest, or phase II, has yet to be decided.
Mixed Use Employment is primarily industrial zoning, but the Corvallis Land Use Code intends MUE to provide multiple services to employees in the area that they work, including housing and shopping. For this reason, MUE allows for multiple types of residential and commercial development, as long as industrial floor area exists on the zone. Hutchens explained that the remaining area of the plot could presumably be developed to whatever the property owners deemed to be the most prudent investment, including apartments.
The North Corvallis neighbors presented multiple concerns at the meeting, including traffic, pedestrian amenities, land beatification, and lack of local affordable housing. Hutchens claimed that a storage facility would only generate around five to ten percent of the traffic that the area might have garnered had the property been developed as combination MUE and LDR. He also explained that pedestrian amenities are a requirement of the project and would include more sidewalks around the plot, a point that seemed to please some of the attendees that had expressed enthusiasm for taking walks around the neighborhood.
An attendee expressed aversion to high density housing being built for phase II, especially apartments with multiple stories. The consultants explained that though apartments or townhouses were a possibility, they could not be built more than one floor above neighboring housing, capping them at two stories.
Andrew Freborg, neighborhood resident and former City Council candidate, asked why the entire plot could not be converted to housing. The consultants said that the area directly adjacent to the Pepsi plant was not a monetarily desirable area for housing due to the industrial infrastructure present, and other available LDR zoning in Corvallis was more attractive for housing development. Another North Corvallis neighbor brought up the apartments near HP as an example that industrial-adjacent housing can work.
Counselor Struthers remarked during the meeting that there is an area shortage of self storage units, but declined to comment to the Advocate his opinion of the North Corvallis project. Freborg, his Ward 9 opponent in 2018, said, “We may need storage units, but not as much as we need housing. We have ten acres of prime, build-able land within city limits, and we need housing.
There is a storage facility across the street from the proposed development, on Walnut Blvd. The Advocate learned they are currently running a special for 25 percent off, and have a number of available units. Personnel at the existing facility report the units will quickly fill in the spring as students prepare to leave for the summer.
Freborg also cited environmental concerns, saying that the impermeable surfaces created by the project would create runoff problems for area streams, such as Sequoia Creek.
This plot was also recently considered for purchase by Rich Carone, for the purpose of constructing a homeless shelter. Phase I of the project will begin as soon as permits are granted, and phase II is currently being considered by the owners, and could progress as soon as this Summer.
-By Jay Sharpe