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PORTLAND-The Portland Development Commission is expected to approve today a quarter-million study that will determine how best to get a light watercraft center built on the east bank of the Willamette River, across from Downtown.

At issue is whether it would be best to seismically upgrade and renovate the 80,000-sf former Holman Moving and Storage building at 49 SE Clay St., or demolish it and build anew. Regardless, the ultimate goal is to lease it out to companies with river-related operations. Both studies should be completed by the end of January.

“Right now we don’t own the property, the correct zoning or the necessary funding to make it happen, but everybody involved seems to want it to happen,” , Michael McElwee, a project manager for PDC, told GlobeSt.com in October. Those involved include the PDC, the city and state transportation departments and the federal government.

The state, which owns the building, is willing to trade it and use of surrounding vacant parcels if the city is willing to take over maintenance of a stretch of Martin Luther King Boulevard. The city would then transfer the property to the PDC, its development arm. The property, however, essentially under the right-of-way for the Interstate highway system, which is under control of the federal government.

McElwee tells GlobeSt.com that due to the entanglements, it could take a while for everybody to sign off on the deal. “It’s been two years in the making up to this point,” said McElwee, who predicts something could be up and running on the site by the end of 2002. He says there are tenants interested in the space for the storage of rowing shells.

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