Pamplin Media Group – Madras Starbucks Projects Fail

Barriers to accessing Y South location make developer wary of risk

Dreams of building a drive-thru and sit-down Starbucks at the South Y in Madras have fallen on hard times.

“We want to develop that,” said developer Jake Ertle. “I chased after this land for four years.”

Ertle likes the exposure at this location, which is visible to both north and south traffic.

In the spring of 2021, Ertle agreed to purchase the property from Jefferson County for $210,000. He planned to build a 2,000 square foot Starbucks with indoor and outdoor seating and drive-thru.

One thing stands in the way. The Starbucks needs better access from Fourth Street. Ertle wants the Oregon Department of Transportation to reconfigure the intersection to allow left turns from Fourth to K Street and from K Street to Fourth.

“ODOT is not going to play ball,” Ertle said.

Starbucks lost interest in the site, but when Ertle could not find a better site in Madras, Starbucks rekindled his interest.

Ertle’s contract to purchase the property from the county includes two stipulations:

1. Develop other businesses on the site.

2. That it begins construction within 18 months of the agreement, i.e. in April 2023.

If he fails to comply with these stipulations, the county has the option of buying back the property from Ertle.

“If you want the land back, buy it back now,” Ertle told Jefferson County commissioners, “or let me develop it at my own pace.”

Ertle worries that ODOT’s construction plans for Highway 97 in downtown Madras (see story on page 1) will further block traffic to the cafe during the two-year construction period.

“Starbucks may not be interested,” Ertle said. “It creates a risk that I’m not prepared to take.”

The commissioners tabled the discussion at their Aug. 3 meeting, where they will consider their options: buy back the property, remove the terms of the contract, or leave things as they are.

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