The Jefferson Crossing apartment building, under construction Sept. 4, 2017, is on pace to take tenants next July.

Discussions that began in 2015 about putting a new apartment building in downtown Oregon led to the start of construction on a 61-unit building in May.

The Jefferson Crossing project is a three-story building on Jefferson Street between South Main Street and the railroad viaduct, and it’s set to open next year. Developers Brett Reimen and Brian Spanos anticipate completion in July.

The apartment building replaces six parcels that included private homes and an auto repair shop – property that was formerly owned by local developer Paul Lynch and sold to the developers.

Part of the overall project involves reconfiguring the village-owned Jefferson Street parking lot behind a row of South Main Street businesses. Traffic flow and limited spots there have been the source of much angst over the past few years.

The developer is responsible for reconstructing the lot, which includes burying utility lines. But the village will reimburse the developer for the work as part of a pay-as-you-go tax-increment financing package amounting to almost $1 million.

Reimen told the Observer a “key piece” of the project was trying to maximize parking in the area and “make sure that we don’t take away any of the parking” for any businesses downtown.

“We’re redoing the Jefferson lot to maintain the number of stalls that the village has there, and then also adding some for our residents as well,” he said in September.

The multi-family infill project will be a combination of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments along with a fitness center, community room and outdoor patio with a gazebo.

Reimen said the 41-foot-high building on the 1.3-acre parcel will be the tallest around, but not much higher than its neighboring building at 101 S. Main Street.

“When we initially talked with the engineer, we decided to bring the building up a couple of feet, for a couple reasons,” he told the Observer. “One, the groundwater table was a little higher than we wanted there. And two, we have all those walk-out units on Jefferson, and we wanted to give them a little more privacy.

“So going up a two feet allows them to get off the sidewalk a little bit. That way people walking by don’t look directly into their windows.”

Village officials have hoped for a redevelopment of the area for years, in part because the former properties were the subject of complaints about the storage of unused automobiles and other debris.

The village rebuilt most of the streets and infrastructure downtown – including the Jefferson Street parking lot – in 2008-09.

The village held a public forum in March this year about the project. Most of the discussion centered on the parking lot instead of the building itself. The apartment building will have 60 underground parking stalls and 28 surface parking stalls.

The village’s contract with the developer calls for $800,000 in TIF, with 5 percent interest. That means the amount the property taxes increase after the building is erected will be diverted to a TIF district, which will then return all the taxes paid – including those to other jurisdictions – to the developer until the pledge is paid off.

Village President Steve Staton said he believes the project will drive economic development in downtown Oregon.

“It’ll bring more people downtown,” he said. “I think with people living there and working elsewhere, for the most part, it will spread the word about Oregon being a great place to live.

“I think it changes the face of downtown and will quite likely attract more businesses and more activities downtown,” he added.

Contact Bill Livick at bill.livick@wcinet.com