Port of Astoria gives go-ahead for 'Red Building' renovationA local company has approval from the Port of Astoria to renovate the "Red Building" on the waterfront east of the Red Lion Inn and turn it into a space with restaurants, stores, office space and a riverwalk.

At its monthly commission meeting Tuesday night, the Port unanimously voted to sell the Red Building to Union Fish Properties LLC for $120,000, and lease the property that it sits on to the company for 20 years, with renewal options and options to lease the adjacent lots.

"I think it's very consistent with what came from the master plan," said Port Deputy Director Bill Cook, citing the variety of tenants that will be located in the building. "I'm really pleased this process has come to some resolve."

Union Fish, co-owned by Shawn Helligso and Ryan Davis, has tentative plans to renovate the building so that it will hold a restaurant with outdoor seating, a high-end coffee shop, a candy store, a seafood market and office space.

"With this project we hope to give the community something that will really enhance the area," said Davis, who estimates he's been working on this project for three years. "It was a project born out of our appreciation for the history of Astoria ... When you walk inside (the building), it feels like you're back in the 30s."

The company plans to start work in November with improvements to the pilings and to the building's foundation, Helligso said. Work on the deck, repair windows and sidings will follow. Their goal is to have the stores up and running by summer 2005.

"We wish you the best of luck," said Port Commissioner Dan Hess.

The port also approved a grant and a loan from the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department for the construction of the new Bornstein Seafoods plant, with some conditions.

The grant, for $500,000 for building a new bulkhead at Pier 3, comes with the condition that Bornstein Seafoods has to retain at least 100 full-time jobs for at least one year - if it doesn't, the port will have to pay $5,000 for each job not accounted for. Because of this, the port is asking Bornstein to guarantee that it will keep those 100 jobs, said Port Executive Director Peter Gearin.

In addition, he said that no funds would be drawn from the $5.76 million loan until the lease with Bornstein is finalized.

Port Commissioner Larry Pfund said that he thought requiring job retention was an odd thing to have as a grant condition, but Gearin said that it was becoming more common.

"That's a growing trend now," Gearin said. As organizations are promising job growth along with their projects, the state is using conditions such as this to ensure these organizations fulfill these promises, he said.

"You're going to be seeing this all the time now," said Commissioner Don McDaniel.

The commission unanimously approved the loan, contingent on the final lease agreement with Bornstein and the job guarantee agreement.

The commission also reallocated assignments on other committees, and created a new committee to follow cold storage facility options.

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