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Downtown building projects shine light on improving local economy

Crews and heavy equipment occupied the former Cavanaugh block in downtown Auburn on Tuesday, beginning the pile-driving phase, and setting the foundation for the five-story Trek Apartments project that’s expected to open in 2015.  - Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter
Crews and heavy equipment occupied the former Cavanaugh block in downtown Auburn on Tuesday, beginning the pile-driving phase, and setting the foundation for the five-story Trek Apartments project that’s expected to open in 2015.
— image credit: Robert Whale/Auburn Reporter

As Doug Lein talked about downtown redevelopment Tuesday afternoon, he could look over the heads of business and City leaders on the second floor of the Truitt Building and through the windows to East Main, where workers were just then driving micro pilings under the old Cavanaugh block.

As Auburn's economic development director noted with satisfaction, those workers were creating the foundation of the Trek Apartments.

At an Auburn-Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Lein said Landmark Development officials expect to finish the pile-driving phase of their five-story project in about two weeks. By the end of March, the developer looks to push on to underground work and to begin pouring concrete.

The Trek project calls for 128 market-rate apartments above 12,000 square feet of retail space. The apartments range from 450 to 825 square feet.

A parking garage behind the building is to be roofed and refaced with a brick veneer that blends in with the exterior of the new building.

Landmark's project is already three weeks ahead of its scheduled 2015 opening.

Lein said even before its space has been put on the market for rent, Landmark has received letters of intent from two restaurants and other interested entities that would fill the entire 2,000 square feet of ground-floor space of the Trek building.

"Bringing in the new residential with expendable income, that's the demographic that the restaurants and the retail companies look at, and it all comes in progression," Lein said.

"... As a community, we should be very proud of what we're seeing right now," Lein said of the historic reshaping of Auburn's downtown west of A Street Southeast.

John Teutsch, CEO of Teutsch Partners LLC, later updated luncheon attendees about plans for the property his company bought from the City of Auburn in the last days of 2013.

"It gives us a lot of opportunity to do a variety of things," Teutsch said of the 138,000 square feet of holdings, spread out over two blocks just east of the Auburn Sounder Station. Half of Teutsch's purchase was the Gambini block on South Division Street, home to the chamber of commerce.

Teutsch revealed that his company has partnered with Merrill Gardens and Pillar Development, whose specialty is market-rate apartments and senior living.

"This project also has the potential for office, and certainly retail and possibly medical office. We're really excited about doing it," Teutsch said.

The company's development bona fides, Teutsch said, include numerous commercial projects throughout the Puget Sound area and in Portland.

Lein said the City of Auburn is eager to keep people informed about what's happening downtown. That means the City's public information office will be putting out a load of press releases. The City also plans to launch a new downtown website with useful information about parking and road closures.

The City's Information and Technology Department, he said, has even installed a webcam above the corner of 1 Main Street.

When all is complete, the City expects there to be 500 additional people living downtown.

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