The 50-foot tall, red Scappoose Peace Candle is a familiar sight for many Columbia County residents as they move along Highway 30 through Scappoose every day.
And the landmark building is expected to remain standing even as a major renovation project at the property continues.
The property is owned by Portland development company, WDC Properties. Spokesperson Jessica Edsall, with EkoLiving, a sister company to WDC that works on the rental aspects of the buildings, said WDC has always focused on supporting small businesses, uplifting local communities, and sustainably creating beautiful buildings, she said.
“We recognize that the Peace Candle holds a special place in the hearts of the residents of this city, and it is always difficult to see older structures removed to make way for new buildings,” Edsall said. “Which is why we made an agreement with the city to keep the candle open to the public, despite being on private land.”
WDC purchased the two-acre site in October 2019. Edsall said there were two outbuildings and a barn adjacent to the Peace Candle that have been dismantled and will be removed from the property.
In the place of the outbuildings and barn, Edsall said that 80 eco-friendly rental housing units will be constructed in two buildings with parking for the residents and also for visitors to the Peace Candle.
“This will provide the community with much-needed rental housing options, which are in shortage in the area,” Edsall said. “And if the city and county provides an incentive for affordability, through a real estate tax abatement, then 15% of the units can become affordable rentals at 85% of median family income.”
Construction on the new housing is expected to begin this summer and could be completed by the fall or winter of 2021.
“The one thing that we are the most excited about, is our decision to name the new building “Candlelight Apartments” in honor of this long-standing local beacon and the candle factory that once stood on these grounds,” Edsall said.
The goal is to leave a positive and lasting impact in the communities where WDC develops, according to Edsall.
“The proposed Candlelight Apartments will help strengthen the local economy, and celebrate the history of the community while also providing a beautiful, environmentally responsible new apartment building for residents to call home,” Edsall said. “Change is never easy, but it brings about growth and progress. WDC is truly honored to have the chance to find that perfect balance between the old and the new while we work on this project.”
According to a story about the Peace Candle on KGW Channel 8 News in Portland, a community petition was circulated to ensure that the Peace Candle stayed in place. A local resident told KGW that the candle gives people hope for the world.