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State treasurer joins throng of Cornelius Place fans

Ted Wheeler visits Cornelius to talk up library/senior housing complex

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler visited Cornelius last week to praise the Cornelius Place project, hoping it would help bring children and seniors together.Last Wednesday, March 18, Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler came to Cornelius and told a group of local leaders, including government officials, educators and businesspeople, that the city’s planned library/affordable senior housing project was going to make a “profound statement that Cornelius is going to be a community for everyone.”

PGE’s Government Affairs Representative Mark Fryburg opened the event by stating that the new Cornelius Place project would be pivotal to the city’s downtown redevelopment and growth.

Mayor Jef Dalin thanked Wheeler for coming and called the three-story project, which will sit on Adair Street between 13th and 14th avenues, “a game changer” for Cornelius.

“It’s a literacy center for the entire community, will be home for 41 units of affordable senior housing, and have a large community room. It will be an outstanding addition to our downtown and a gathering place for the community to come together for many positive reasons,” Dalin said.

Wheeler, who has been praised for increasing the state’s credit rating and saving state money through technology upgrades in Salem, quipped that his introduction was longer than his speech was going to be, then went on to extol Cornelius Place.

“There have been many working to make this project a reality,” he said. “It’s going to be transformational for the community, a shot in the arm for economic development, and a great educational and job-training opportunity.”

He spoke to the advantage of having senior housing above the library, pointing out that the number of senior adults is going to double in the near future and “our children need to connect with older adults who want to share their life experiences.”

“Cornelius is going to be a waypoint for people of different economic backgrounds. A community where true growth comes from home-grown employers,” he said.

Noting that this project has taken 10 years (and counting) to complete, Wheeler said Salem is asking why Oregon can’t get projects like this done as quickly as they do in China. The answer, he said, is that China doesn’t have to go through the democratic process.

“So how do we compete?” he asked. “It’s through partnerships like Cornelius Place.” The project will show the rest of Oregon how a good business-government partnership works, said Wheeler, who plans to visit again when it’s completed.

Cornelius Place is a joint project of the city of Cornelius and Bienestar, a Hillsboro-based nonprofit housing developer. The cost was estimated at $12.8 million a few years ago, with $4.8 million going toward the library and $8 million for the housing, although that overall estimate has risen to about $15 million since then.

The library has already received $2.4 million from Oregon Lottery Bond funding, $260,000 from a Community Development Block Grant, and $50,000 from individual donors. Bienestar has also received grants and has applied for $8,632,137 in federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, which the Oregon Housing and Community Services department will hand out this July.

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