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Archives for April 11, 2014

Wal-Mart in Orchards?

Just as Wal-Mart prepares to open its second Neighborhood Market in Vancouver and its third Clark County Supercenter in Battle Ground, the giant retailer appears to be moving forward with plans for a long-mothballed project in Orchards.

But first, developers are proposing revisions to the retail project, once called Eastgate Plaza. It once was part of a larger commercial site called the Birtcher Business Center, planned as a mixed use of industrial, office and flex space in a 218-acre pasture on the south side of Northeast Fourth Plain Boulevard between 137th and 152nd streets.

Once the revisions are made, Wal-Mart hopes to open the store by the end of next year, said Deborah Ewing, a vice president and managing broker with Eric Fuller Associates Inc. commercial real estate firm.

“They plan on being open by third quarter 2015,” she said. The plan fits right in with Wal-Mart’s dramatic Clark County expansion. Its newest Neighborhood Market, a smaller concept focused on grocery sales, is set to open May 1 at Fourth Plain and Grand boulevards, less than one year after the area’s first Neighborhood Market opened near Westfield Vancouver mall. A 154,000-square-foot Supercenter is under construction in Battle Ground and earmarked for a late spring opening.

The company would not confirm or deny plans to start construction on the Orchards-area site.

Ewing isn’t surprised the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer appears to be going forward, given an abundance of moderate income-level households in the neighborhoods surrounding the proposed Orchards site.

“It (the retail site) is ready to go, it’s off state Highway 500 and the demographics are there,” said Ewing, a retail expert who at one time marketed the site for its former developers. When plans for the store were put on hold, she regularly received calls from area residents who were eager to patronize the Wal-Mart.

“People were upset because the project wasn’t built,” she said.

But the real estate market has changed dramatically since developers signed an agreement in 2003, said Chad Eiken, Vancouver’s director of community and economic development, who said the city is considering changes proposed by the project’s new developers. Two new companies now own the parcels adjacent to the 22.5-acre Wal-Mart site. The adjoining sites include a 10.8-acre tract owned by Portland-based Weston Investment Co. and an 11.8-acre parcel owned by a Vancouver-based limited liability corporation called 438 LLC.

A spokesman for that company said the retail site has been renamed Evergreen Crossing. The LLC is affiliated with the developers of Chuck’s Produce and Street Market, a family corporation affiliated with Vancouver-based Harvest Developments LLC, which also owns the former Evergreen Airport, a 59-acre commercial tract on Mill Plain Boulevard.

Chuck’s Produce is owned by Bart Colson, a partner in Vancouver-based Hawthorn Retirement Group, a family-owned business that operates a string of more than 40 senior living facilities in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. The family also owns and operates a Salem, Ore.-based commercial construction firm, Colson Colson General Contractors. The company purchased the property next to the Wal-Mart site for $1.2 million in September.

“We committed to looking over their ideas and giving them feedback,” Eiken said, adding that changes to the development agreement would require a majority vote by the city council. “We should know more in a few weeks,” he said.

Weston Investment Co.’s role in the project is unclear. The company is a real estate holding company headed by Joe Weston. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

The original Eastgate Plaza and Wal-Mart never got off the ground, due to the recession and a host of other factors. But some nearby development has since sprouted on the eastern side of Birtcher Business Center, which now includes a training center for the Army Reserve and Washington Army National Guard and the Sifton Fire Station 4. Some of the streets have also been put in place, including a stretch of Northeast 147th Avenue heading south to connect with Northeast 63rd Street and a portion of the east-west route, 59th Street.

Real estate brokers are still marketing the 146-acre Birtcher Business Center site for sale as “one of the largest development-ready parcels in the metropolitan area.” Property records show its owner as the Frances Keller Trust, based in Vancouver.

Real estate inquiries come in regularly for the site, according to Mark Childs, a broker with Portland-based Capacity Commercial, a real estate firm marketing the tract.

In 2011, the city approved changes to the original agreement that allowed Birtcher’s developers to hold off on constructing an east-west route for 59th Street along the site’s southern border to Northeast 162nd Avenue. In 2008, developers won approval from the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers to build the section through a wetlands on the edge of Burnt Bridge Creek.

Eiken said additional development changes proposed are still in the early stages. Eastgate Plaza’s site plan originally called for a Wal-Mart, Home Depot and OfficeMax stores with expansive parking areas. Those plans will likely be revised.

“Now we’re trying to figure out what has changed since the original development agreement was adopted in 2003,” Eiken said. “It’s 11 years later and we need to look at whether parking standards or landscaping standards have changed.”

In the meantime, much of the Birtcher site has been left to weeds and real estate signs since developers withdrew their plans with the recession. California-based Birtcher Development Group announced in 1998 that it was negotiating to buy the entire site and develop 1.8 million square feet of office and light industrial space. But the project couldn’t start construction without an interested tenant’s commitment.

The developers added the retail component in 2003. In 2004, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. paid $9.9 million for its 22.5-acre tract on the west side of the property. The retailer envisioned its Supercenter as the anchor of Eastgate Plaza, which was originally proposed by Bellevue-based Alexandria Investment Co. Then the Eastgate Plaza property, except for the Wal-Mart site, was purchased in 2007 for $14.3 million by former Seattle real-estate magnate and convicted criminal Michael R. Mastro. Mastro and his wife, Linda, have been living in France as fugitives since a federal grand jury indicted them in 2011 on 43 counts of bankruptcy fraud and money laundering, one of Washington’s largest bankruptcy cases.

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Downtown Hershey Association draws large crowd for its first public meeting – The Patriot

HERSHEY — The positive energy at Downtown Hershey
Association’s first public meeting Thursday night was “priming the
pump” for creating a vibrant community, said Phil
Friedrich, a member of the association’s board.

More than 200 people came out to
plaster a wall with notecards offering suggestions on what they would
like to see downtown, and to vote on what they would prefer in the
way of signs, landscaping, parks, building styles, public art, paving
and more.

“Everybody is excited,” Friedrich
said. “I traveled around the world for 20 years in my job, and I
know the possibilities. I’ve seen what a focused civic endeavor can

The Downtown Hershey Association formed
this year
with 25 board members. It has hired the Lititz firm of Derck
to create a master plan for downtown.

Residents seemed eager to add their 2
cents. Already some themes were emerging. Many people cited a
walkable community with more trees, green spaces, bicycle paths,
boutique stores, book stores, night time entertainment, coffee shops
and ethnic restaurants.

Some mentioned dog parks, art galleries
and Segway tours. One suggested “yes to chickens and rabbits,”
another added “no to chickens and rabbits.”

Jennifer Renz, who lives downtown and
has three small children, was the one who did not want chickens,
especially roosters. But she agreed with many of the other ideas.

“We moved here so we could walk
places,” she said. “I’d like more trees, greenery, eco-friendly
things. I like the historic look, but I think we could mix in some
more contemporary architecture. I’d like more things to walk to, more
small businesses.”

Angela Graham and her son Nicholas, 13,
were voting on some of the design elements suggested by Derck
Edson. She said she would like to keep downtown’s historic feel.
Nicholas said he would like fountains, parks, cobblestone streets and
“the old timey look.”

Brian and Jennifer Krause have lived in
town for 20 years, and saw a similar planning process in the early
2000s that didn’t go anywhere. At the time, a lot of people said
they didn’t want tourists downtown, but Brian Krause said he feels

“Without the tourists, you don’t have
the businesses,” he said.

They said they hoped this time is

“We’re pro doing something to make a
more vibrant downtown,” Jennifer Krause said.

Chris Brown, project manager for Derck
Edson, said his job is to synthesize the interviews he has done
with major stakeholders, along with the hundreds of suggestions
posted on the wall and on the organization’s website, to develop a
vision so private development will want to invest. He said there will
probably be public/private partnerships to make it happen, hopefully
within five to seven years.

“We don’t want this plan to sit on a
shelf,” he said. “We want the public to endorse it. A broad
endorsement is the only way to get a plan moving. With the turnout
and the energy tonight, we’re on a good path to get this moving.”

Renz said she liked the idea of getting
input from residents upfront. She is one of many Hershey residents
who objected to the Chipotle “fast casual” Mexican restaurant
being built downtown.

“Let people speak their minds now
instead of coming back and complaining after the ground is broken,”
she said.

Downtown Hershey Association chairman
Ed Uravic said the association will probably release a few conceptual
sketches over the summer, and schedule another public meeting in
September to introduce the plan.

“We want people to feel a sense of
ownership,” he said.

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Consultants offer ideas for Hamilton downtown masterplan


The city of Hamilton is mulling over ideas on ways to improve its business climate and aesthetic appeal.

Consultants offered suggestions on a downtown master plan at a town hall meeting.

A major idea is to create a more attractive and visible gateway from Highway 93 onto Main Street. That could include more green space, art work and lighting. The city wants to fill vacant business space.

Consultants said it is important to reach out to outside business interests, and to businesses already here.

“Because three-quarters of job growth, whether it be retail or industrial,” said economic consultant Mary Bosch, “is going to come from people already in business.”

“We’d improve the signage,” said landscape consultant Sandy Fischer, “we’d do some kind of iconic art feature and landscaping. We’d try to contrast with the visual clutter of 93.”

The Downtown Association, the Business Improvement District, and the City of Hamilton, will review the consultants information in coming weeks.

The master plan is now being written by the consultants. It’s expected there will be a draft plan in about six weeks.

The final document will be presented to the city council for final adoption in June.

Citizen focus groups have been working with consultants for five months. Hundreds of local shoppers, businesses and industries have taken part.

The city paid $50,000 for the consultants’ work.

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London garden centre The Chelsea Gardener buys landscaping business

By Matthew Appleby
Thursday, 10 April 2014

London garden centre The Chelsea Gardener has bought Anthony de Grey Gardens, Trellises and Garden Lighting businesses.

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Knock-out easy care gardens program at NJBG

The New Jersey Botanical Gardens (NJBG) invites you to learn many exciting design tips for “Knockout, Easy-Care Gardens” in a program that mixes humor and practical information at the N.J. state Botanical Garden on Sunday, April 13. Join them at 1 p.m. in the Carriage House Visitor Center for a program presented by nationally known perennials expert Kerry Mendez.

Gorgeous, low-maintenance gardens are no accident. Join them to learn proven design tricks for sensational gardens that will be the talk of the neighborhood. Topics will include selecting great plants, incorporating focal points, vertical interest, sustainable practices, natural repellents, the how’s and when’s of using fertilizer, and much more.

Mendez is dedicated to teaching the art of low-maintenance perennial gardening and landscaping. As a garden consultant, designer, writer and lecturer, she focuses on time-saving gardening techniques and workhorse plant material as well as organic practices. She has been in numerous magazines including Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Garden Gate and Better Homes and Gardens’ Garden Ideas and Outdoor Living.

Mendez was a featured guest on HGTV and hosted Capital News 9’s In the Garden television segment, as well as info segments for Channel 13. She is a garden columnist for Life@Home and Today’s Garden Center magazines, and writes freelance pieces for regional and national magazines.

As a presenter for Horticulture magazine’s 2010 and 2011 webinar series, her webinars attracted thousands of gardeners from around the country.

She is now a manager of Estabrook’s Nursery in Kennebunk, Maine. Mendez is a self-taught gardener with more than 25 years of experience and a ‘passionate perennialist’ that enjoys mixing humor with practical information. She was the recipient of a 2010 Women of Distinction award by Success Magazine Ltd. Hers top-selling first book, “The Ultimate Flower Gardener’s Top Ten Lists,” was released in March 2010; followed by her second book, “Top Ten Lists for Beautiful Shade Gardens” in March 2011. For more about her business, Perennially Yours, visit

A $5 donation is requested. For more, contact NJBG at

The New Jersey State Botanical Garden at Skylands, which appears on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places, is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Admission to the Garden is always free. Parking is also free in the fall, winter and spring.

NJBG receives no funding from the State of New Jersey or from on-site operators. Donations and sponsorships are always appreciated.

NJBG/Skylands is located on Morris Road in Ringwood. For an event schedule, membership brochure, directions or more information, call 973-962-9534 or visit

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Botanical gardens to present sustainable landscaping program

Susan Barton will present “Lessons from the Roadside: Sustainable Landscaping in the Backyard” on Saturday, April 19, from 10 a.m. to noon at the South Coastal Library, at 43 Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach.

Using the lessons learned by managing roadside vegetation along Delaware’s roadsides in the Enhancing Delaware Highways project for more than 10 years, the talk will suggest methods for incorporating sustainable landscape design and management into the home landscape. It will also cover other local projects, including the water management plantings in South Bethany.

Barton is an extension specialist and associate professor in the Plant Soil Sciences Department at the University of Delaware. She has worked closely for the past 12 years with DelDOT to research and implement new roadside vegetation management strategies. She has also worked with partners to develop the Plants for a Livable Delaware Program, designed to provide alternatives to known invasive plants species and to promote sustainable landscaping.

Barton teaches Plants Human Culture, Nursery Garden Center Management and Students of Our Environment and coordinates the Landscape Horticulture Internship. She also works closely with the nursery and landscape industry, writing newsletters, organizing short courses and conducting horticulture industry expos with the Delaware Nursery and Landscape Association.

Barton received the Nursery Extension Award in 1995 from the American Nursery Landscape Association and the Ratledge Award for service from the University of Delaware in 2007.

There will be a drawing for a $50 gift certificate from Lord’s Landscaping in Millville at the event.

The presentation is one of a series sponsored by the Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek, whose mission is “to create a world-class, inspirational, educational, and sustainable public botanic garden in southern Delaware for the benefit and enjoyment of the public.” For more information, visit their website at

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Tips and tricks for gardening and green thumbs

 The weather is getting warmer, and that means anyone with a ‘green thumb’ is anxious to plant their vegetable gardens.

But just because you don’t have a ‘green thumb’ doesn’t mean you can’t grow your own veggies.

Crystal Sanders from James Sanders Nursery joined the WPSD Local 6 TODAY crew to offer some helpful tips and tricks: from saving money while planting your garden, to compost, to what grows best in our area.

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Proctor: Container gardening tips

Container gardening is the fastest-growing segment of the gardening industry. 9NEWS at 8 a.m. 04/10/14.

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Tips to Green Your Home and Garden this Season

Going green at home doesn’t have to turn your life upside down. There are simple measures you can take in your kitchen and garden to run a planet-friendly home.

Reduce Waste

Ensure your kitchen is properly outfitted with labeled paper and plastic recycling bins. Keep these receptacles handy to encourage your family and guests to make use of them.

Take your waste reduction a step further by setting up a bin for food scraps, which you can add to your yard trimmings. Composting creates a natural fertilizer that’s makes a planet-friendly alternative to the chemical variety.

By recycling and composting, you can join the ranks of Americans reducing the waste they send to the landfill. In fact, recycling and composting prevented 86.9 million tons of materials from being disposed in 2011 in the United States, up from 15 million tons in 1980, according to government estimates.

Protect Wildlife

You may think of your yard as “yours,” but you are actually sharing the space with furry creatures, insects and birds. Habitat destruction and loss, as well other manmade and natural threats, put beautiful species like humming birds at risk. Make your garden a safe haven with bird feeders and by planting native, sustentative shrubs, trees and flowers.

Unfortunately, bird to building collisions, particularly with windows, are estimated to kill between 100 million and 1 billion birds in the United States alone, according to a new report from the Cooper Ornithological Society.

Ensure the safety of your airborne visitors by applying static-cling decals to your windows, which helps birds detect glass, thereby avoiding injury or death. Decals from WindowAlert, for example, rely on special ultraviolet-reflecting coating that looks like etched glass to humans, but is quite visible to birds, and add a decorative appearance to your home.

The coating can fade over time, so remember to replace decals every six to nine months. More information can be found at

Eat Local

Source your food locally to reduce your carbon footprint. If possible, buy local, in-season fruits and vegetables that didn’t have to travel the world to reach your plate.

And while flowers are beautiful to look at — and the right ones can provide nectar for pollinating insects and birds — consider turning at least part of your garden into a space for herbs and vegetables to grow. When dinner comes from your own back yard, it means fresher produce that’s good for your family, and good for the planet.

Don’t just enjoy nature this season, take care of it. With a few small tweaks, it isn’t hard to run your home more sustainably.

Photo Credit: (c) wwing –

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Five tips to successful gardening: Ask the expert

Sara Mauritz is the author of “Fearless Latin: A Gardener’s Introduction to Botanical Nomenclature.”

She is a life-long plant collector and gardener — she has lived in Portland for 45 years — and is a member of Portland Garden Club and Garden Club of America Horticulture judge.

She offers these tips for successful gardening:

  • Know your plants so you put the right plant in the right place.
  • It is helpful to know the origin of the plant. What country it comes from and where it grows. Sunny slopes, forest floor, low elevation, montane region.
  • If you can replicate the growing conditions of a plant, it will succeed in your garden. Having said that, plants can adapt to moderate changes. A shade-lover will not flourish in a place that gets full sun all day, but will probably do just fine with morning sun and shade from the hottest sun of the day. Water needs are a little trickier. A desert plant will probably never thrive if it gets too much irrigation. And a plant that originates in wet marshes will not do well in a very dry area.
  • Any garden will have a variety of growing conditions from dry shade under Doug firs to partial sun under deciduous trees to full hot sunshine all day. If you think about your plants, you can probably find a place in which they can thrive.
  • Experimentation is the best teacher. Try a plant in two or three growing areas of your garden to find the place that it does the best. Hybrid tea roses will never be happy in the high desert area of eastern Oregon but you just might find a good place if you experiment.

Learn more: A good way to learn about plants is to visit nurseries, plant society shows like the Rose Society or the Fuchsia Society, or attend flower shows like the Portland Garden Club Flower Show. The horticulture classes will display the wide variety of plants that thrive in this area.

— Homes Gardens of the Northwest staff

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