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Bag&Baggage, city forge plan to bring new theater building to downtown

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - Bag&Baggage Productions is planning to buy the old Wells Fargo bank building, which has sat empty for years, to transform it into their own performing arts space. If all goes as planned, Hillsboro’s Bag&Baggage Productions will be moving their offices and getting to work planning the remodel of their very own theater this year.

Bag&Baggage and the city of Hillsboro are proposing an agreement to the Hillsboro Economic Development Commission (HEDC) Tuesday night, July 7, that would allow the city of Hillsboro to enter into a loan agreement with Bag&Baggage for the purchase of the old Wells Fargo bank building on East Main Street. The theater production company leaders can turn it into their own permanent performing arts space. Currently, Bag&Baggage rents office and storage space and offers performances out of the Venetian Theatre & Bistro.

Bag&Baggage and city officials are working from a background study completed for the city of Hillsboro by AMS Planning & Research, Jill Burnette Consulting, and Opsis Architecture, which looked at options for purchasing the Wells Fargo building from its current owner, Tokola Properties. Tokola developed the 4th Main mixed used apartment/retail building, and originally planned to develop the Wells Fargo building -- which has been vacant for years -- as a site for retail businesses.

If the HEDC approves the plan, the city of Hillsboro will put up $775,000 from Urban Renewal District funds, which can be used for capital projects within the downtown Hillsboro area that support commercial, industrial and mixed-used improvements. Bag&Baggage, which will take ownership of the building, will pay back the city in full over the next 20 years.

If Bag&Baggage defaults on the payments, building ownership would revert to the city.

The city’s help will make buying the building possible for Bag&Baggage, said the nonprofit company’s artistic director, Scott Palmer. Bag&Baggage won’t have to make payments until 2017, and the interest rate on the loan will be 1 percent.

The property has been appraised at $830,000, and the value is expected to raise to $1.1 million after improvements are completed.

Having a professional theater group is crucial to the city and to the revitalization of downtown, said Mark Clemons, the city’s economic development director.

“We think it’s a great deal,” Clemons said.

City officials and Bag&Baggage representatives see the deal as a mutually beneficial one. Bag&Baggage will stay in downtown Hillsboro, where Palmer said they want to be, in a permanent home that will allow the company to grow artistically and financially. The theater will also continue to draw visitors to the downtown area, not only from Hillsboro, but from all over the metropolitan area, which provides a significant economic boost to the city.

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  • 7 Jul 2015

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