Ertle says saving Platypus building is too expensive
The developer who would destroy the home of Platypus Pub to make way for a drive-thru coffee shop wants a second drive-thru restaurant near the same corner.
Jake Ertle said this week that he will submit plans for a 3,000 square-foot restaurant with a drive-thru, either in conjunction with or soon after completing an application already in progress before the city. His pending application is for a 2,000 square-foot coffee shop at the northwest corner of Third Street and NE Lafayette Avenue.
People who live and work nearby oppose Ertle’s vision for Third Street, a heavy-traffic corridor that the city would like to convert into a high-density neighborhood. An estimated 40 people turned out for a June meeting that was required by the city. And 31 people have emailed city planners to lodge complaints and oppose granting a conditional-use permit for the drive-thru Ertle wants.
But Ertle says he also heard from several real estate brokers whose national chain restaurant clients are very interested in the drive-thru.
“We decided, ‘Let’s start on the second one,’” he said.
The second drive-thru would be just north of a public parking lot, to be built in conjunction with the first drive-thru.
Ertle, who grew up in Bend but lives in Phoenix, was in town on Aug. 8 for another neighborhood meeting, this one to fulfill city requirements for the second building. Eight people who weren’t affiliated the developer attended.
“What I’m hearing from a few folks is it’s really not in line with that whole Bend Central District vision,” said DeeDee Johnson, an Orchard District Neighborhood Association board member who represented the neighborhood at the Aug. 8 meeting. “People were looking forward to more mixed-use (buildings).”
The second drive-thru would loop around the north side of the building. Cars would enter from Third Street and exit onto an alley that runs parallel to NE Second Street. Parking would be on a public lot between the two drive-thru restaurants.
Although the site plan for the first building, 2,000 square feet, refers to a coffee shop, Ertle said he hasn’t signed leases for either building. The tenants would likely be national fast-food or quick-service casual chains, he said.
“I strongly feel the last thing this community or any community for that matter needs is an all disposable drive-thru,” Bend resident Jodi Groteboer wrote in an email to city planners in June.
Others opposed the first phase of Ertle’s plan in more concrete terms. A drive-thru would cause congestion in the alley, which many motorists use to avoid traffic on Third Street, 2nd Street Theater Executive Director Sandy Klein wrote to the city.
And the increased traffic on Lafayette Avenue would make it difficult for theater patrons to pull in and back out of parking spaces, she said.
A drive-thru would be “antithetical” to the pedestrian-oriented vision of the Bend Central District overlay zone, which includes Ertle’s property, Bend resident Kaycee Anseth wrote. Having attended the June neighborhood meeting, she added, the developer didn’t “seem to listen at all.”
“We took a lot of the feedback to heart,” Ertle said. After the first neighborhood meeting, he said he met privately with architect Craig Davis and Moey Newbold of Central Oregon LandWatch to walk through alternatives to his drive-thru plan.
Preserving the Platypus building, a former church, would cost $1.5 million to $2.2 million, Ertle said. “We came to the conclusion it would be cheaper to tear down and rebuild it looking like that,” he said.
A mixed-use building would cost roughly $20 million, Ertle said. Rents for apartments in Bend don’t justify the cost of mixed-use development, he said.
The drive-thru buildings will probably cost $1.2 million to $1.4 million each, including the public parking lot, Ertle said.
Though the neighborhood’s opposition to Ertle’s plan is obvious, none of the written comments were submitted within the window necessary for legal standing, Senior Planner Karen Swenson said.
In order for one’s concerns to be addressed in the city’s decision about a conditional-use permit, and to gain standing for an appeal, comments have to be submitted after the developer’s application is complete, she said.
The application for the Platypus site remains incomplete, but the deadline is Sept. 17, Swenson said.
— Reporter: 541-617-7860, email@example.com