Cannon Beach is refining plans for the redevelopment of the old school

July 8—CANNON BEACH — Plans to redevelop the former elementary school and NeCus’ Park site into a tourist destination honoring tribal history have begun to take shape.

Over the past two months, the city and its Portland-based design architect, CIDA Inc., have conducted a series of community outreach events and stakeholder surveys on how to rejuvenate the city-owned property. on Beaver Street.

The property is envisioned as a destination that honors the Confederated Clatsop-Nehalem Tribes, since the site was home to the tribes ancestors. The project budget is currently $5.5 million. In February, the city council authorized the city to borrow an initial amount of $4.6 million for the project to prevent excessive borrowing. Lodging taxes will be used to repay the loan.

During a working session on Thursday, city councilors gave CIDA the go-ahead to move into the design phase after the company presented a report outlining the possibilities.

Dustin Johnson, CIDA’s lead architect, said he expects lengthy discussions during the schematic design phase.

“As we’re starting to put pen to paper and really defining what those spaces are…we’re starting to separate things at this point,” Johnson said. “And it’s starting to spark ideas in everyone.”

There are three buildings on the property, including a 7,000 square foot gymnasium and a 4,500 square foot one-story building with four classrooms and offices.

A 3,300 square foot building is used by the food bank and is not currently part of the project. The other two buildings have been vacant since 2013 and are in fair to poor condition, according to the architecture firm.

Johnson recommended a flexible and multi-purpose design throughout the property to meet the widest range of stakeholder-identified goals and interests.

The classroom building is designed to house flexible educational spaces, such as classrooms, workshops, meeting rooms or exhibition spaces. The building could include a visitor center that could offer information about the site, the city and its surroundings.

The gymnasium building is planned to be used as a flexible event space for functions ranging from large gatherings, exhibitions, performing arts, dinners, conferences and galas. When not in use for events, the space could function as a public recreation center designed to accommodate uses ranging from basketball, pickleball, volleyball and a walking track.

A commercial kitchen could also be added to the building and serve as a teaching kitchen to support the food bank and others.

Johnson said stakeholders want to use the property to host large public and private outdoor events and recreation while preserving nature.

The programming report described seven categories, including plaza and bus stop, community garden, patio, recreation ground, amphitheater and foyer, waterfront corridor, and estuary beach.

A recreation ground could serve as a patio for a farmers market, car show, or outdoor art exhibit.

Footpaths and a walkway could connect the site to Ecola Creek Park and Les Shirley Park.

The report presented several strategies to address parking, including additional on-site parking, a shuttle, and better walking and cycling opportunities.

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Sandy A. Greer