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Pendleton Development Commission creates new program after vet clinic request – Local News

‘Fresh start’ program will allow funding for businesses looking to move to new locations

Faced with unusual funding requests, the Pendleton Development Commission took unusual steps to approve them.

Neither the Pendleton Veterinary Clinic nor the Pendleton Downtown Association used one of the commission’s established programs, but they still got at least some of what they wanted, even if it took creating a new program and an unusually close vote to get it done.

The commission agreed to give the Pendleton Veterinary Clinic a $100,000 grant to help build a new clinic on Southwest Emigrant Avenue, between First Community Credit Union and Papa Murphy’s.

Clinic owner Fiona Hillenbrand already has financing in place for the $1 million project and wants to purchase blighted property across Emigrant and replace it with new housing in the future.

In a presentation, Hillenbrand explained that the Pendleton Veterinary Clinic had outgrown its current building at 1901 S.W. Court Ave., which was originally built in 1949.

The new 5,000-square-foot facility would allow Hillenbrand to hire a new veterinarian, two support staff and several part-time employees, she said.

To make the project financially feasible, Hillenbrand said the clinic will offer new services like pet daycare, luxury boarding, obedience classes and acupuncture.

Hillenbrand’s long-term plan is to purchase property across the street and build a small apartment complex that could accommodate intern housing and temporary housing for veterinary staff that need to monitor animals overnight.

Hillenbrand said the original estimate for the new facility was around $800,000, but that estimate has since risen to just under $1 million. She was seeking the commission’s help in covering that gap.

Rather than outright approving or rejecting Hillenbrand’s ask, councilor Paul Chalmers, the chairman of the commission, recommended creating an entirely new program to support it.

Chalmers proposed the “fresh start” grant program, which would provide 10 percent of a project’s cost up to $100,000 for newly constructed buildings or buildings that take the place of a demolished structure. Thirty percent of the grant is dispersed once the building’s foundation is set and the other 70 percent is granted once a certificate of occupancy is issued.

Chalmers suggested that the program be made available beginning April 1 — more than two weeks prior. That meant approving “fresh start” and the Pendleton Veterinary Clinic project could essentially become a package deal.

The commission unanimously voted to send the recommendation to its advisory committee, which would flesh out the program before sending back to the commission for final approval.

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The Pendleton Downtown Association initially wanted a long-term commitment to provide $55,000 per year for operating expenses and to retain its program manager. What the commission ended up giving…

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