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Developer Mike McKeel pledges units below market rate at Miller, Main avenues.

COURTESY MIKE MCKEEL  - This five-story apartment tower would place four floors of residential units above ground-level retail. Developer Mike McKeel wants to offer 15 percent of the units for affordable prices below the market rate. A towering five-story apartment building could be the next development to rise in Gresham's historic downtown.

Newly-released renderings show a transformed parking lot between Main and Miller avenues — adding four floors of residences above ground-floor retail in one structure.

The alleyway behind East Hill Church would be reworked as a paved drive aisle that connects both avenues. A second lane branching off from Northeast 3rd Street could create frontage along the back of several pre-existing buildings, but would likely require some demolition.

A "soft center" public plaza would anchor the apartment block facing Gresham Library.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Mike McKeelOne of the two backers, Mike McKeel, wants the project to offer 15 percent of the units at affordable rates below market value. The developer and dentist thinks roughly 70 people could call that building home.

"It'll be old but it'll still be new," McKeel said from the site, a vacant lot behind the now defunct Billy Bob's Sports Bar. "We'll keep the funky stuff."

The plans are only preliminary, with construction unlikely to begin for at least a year or two.

McKeel along with his business partner Thomas Bikales haven't submitted the apartment drawings to Gresham City Hall, which requires a rigorous permitting process. And as a member of the city's Design Commission, McKeel would need to step back when blueprints hit that desk.

The builders are also mulling the future of a poured-concrete storage facility on the north side of the lot. Designs would retain the bones of the structure but build two floors of residential above.

Plans to replace the former site of Standing Room Only bar with a three-story residential walkup have been nixed.

COURTESY MIKE MCKEEL  - A bird's eye view of the 65,000-square-foot block between Miller and Main avenues in historic downtown Gresham. Plans for a three-story residential walkup, shown here, have already been nixed."I want to make it human scale. A great place to walk through with some open space," McKeel added. "(In architecture), sometimes what you leave out is more important than what you put in."

The 65,000-square-foot property changed hands March 29, after the two developers purchased the land for $3.27 million during a bankruptcy auction. Brothers Bill and Frank Hartner lost the site in April 2016, after running up a $3 million tab, according to previous Outlook reporting. COURTESY MIKE MCKEEL  - Developer Mike McKeel says he wants the proposed buildings to have a walkability score of 100 percent.

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