[December 9, 2023]
For the first time in more than 100 years, the land under the largest commercial property in Hillsdale has changed hands. From the Hillsdale Food Park to Einstein Bagels, most of the south side of Capitol Highway in Hillsdale is now under new ownership.
The fourth-generation descendants of the Wardin family, whose grandfather Albert Wardin built the shopping center more than 60 years ago on his family’s former dairy land, have sold the property. The new owner is Dickerhoof Properties, a large construction and property management firm located in Corvallis.
From the late 19th century through the 1940’s dairies and cows were a major feature of SW Portland, including Hillsdale. The Wardin family owned and operated the Fulton Park Dairy since the turn of the 19th century. The Raz family, German-Swiss immigrants who arrived in the 1880’s, owned the operations before that.
In the post-World War II population surge here, the Wardins sold much of the dairy land to the Portland school district, but the family retained a strip on the south side of Capitol Highway and developed it into the Hillsdale Shopping Center.
The acres once roamed by cows became Wilson Park School (now Rieke Elementary) and Wilson High School (now Ida B. Wells).
Today more than 22 businesses, most locally-owned, line the south side of Capitol Highway. Paloma Clothing has been a tenant for 49 years, and there’s always been a grocery store, starting with Lynch’s Market, once a wayside produce stand for beach-bound vacationers. Nature’s, Wild Oats and Food Front occupied the grocery location before Basics Market took up residence in 2020.
Properties to the east of the shopping center were included in the sale.
Current business line-up in the Hillsdale Shopping Center.
Before Baker and Spice was the Hillsdale Pastry Shop, and before that was the Jenkinson-Ikeda Bakery, the only Kosher Japanese bakery in town, according to the 1988 obituary for baker and owner Saburo Ikeda.
Continuing to operate under the business name "Wardin Investments," the family members involved in the day-to-day management of the property became Braidwoods with the marriage of Ardys Wardin to John Braidwood in 1965.
Wardin family members Chris Braidwood-Reid and her brother Matt Braidwood grew up in Hillsdale and took over operations when their mother, Ardys Braidwood, died in 2021. They learned about maintenance and property management, first from their grandfather, Albert Wardin, and then from Ardys, who managed the property for 54 years. Recent generational changes spurred the sale following the death last year of Ardys’s last living sibling.
According to Braidwood-Reid, Darren Dickerhoof, a family friend, had long expressed interest in purchasing the property if the family ever decided to sell. Braidwood-Reid said that Dickerhoof shares the Wardin’s focus on the long term. They are a family-run business, which was another important factor to Braidwood-Reid.
“I grew up in Hillsdale and grew up taking care of Hillsdale: collecting rents, picking up garbage in the parking lot and maintaining the buildings with my grandfather. My brother grew up learning maintenance and construction by helping my grandfather in the shopping center, since he was small. The importance of the shopping center goes very deep for both of us.”
Owners of businesses in the Hillsdale Shopping Center expressed appreciation for the management style of the Wardin family. “I feel lucky to have been able to have such amazing landlords that treated us like family,” said Julina Abbot, owner of Gurton’s Plant Shop. Mike Roach, co-owner of Paloma Clothing, said that the Wardins set a high bar for working with their tenants: “We’ve seen many instances where they bent over backwards to help tenants survive. We were so fortunate to have had them as our landlords for almost 49 years!”
Uri Kushner, owner of Dairy Hill Ice Cream echoed those sentiments, and added that the family has always had the best interest of their tenants and community in mind. “They put a lot of care and thought into how their decisions affect the community, so I trust their decision to put the property into the hands of the new owners,” he said.
Kushner's comments point to the significant impact a large property owner can have on the community beyond their role as landlords.
Hillsdale's Don Baack has long been active in local civic affairs. He credits the Braidwoods effectively and generously collaborating with neighbors on neighborhood improvements over the years. Among those efforts were keeping Rieke open when the school district announced plans to close it, and adding trees, sidewalks and crosswalks to Capitol Highway. (In 2003 and then again in 2006, closure of Rieke Elementary was averted by sustained and successful action from the community; before 2000, pedestrians took their chances along the shoulder of Capitol Hwy with cars whizzing by.)
Baack is hopeful that the new owner of the shopping center will carry on the Wardin family's tradition of cooperation to the benefit of the entire community. "When the business community and the neighborhood unite in working towards common goals it becomes a very powerful force," he said.
According to Roach, during introductory meetings with tenants in October, Darren Dickerhoof indicated that he recognizes the unique qualities of the Hillsdale Shopping Center and that he plans to engage an architect to produce designs for a “facelift” for the shopping center.
Darren Dickerhoof did not respond to messages from the Hillsdale News. The Dickerhoof Properties website lists construction, retail leasing, and commercial property sales as activities. The website lists more than 30 retail tenants, including Starbucks, Subway, The UPS store, Taco Bell, and Natural Grocers. Most of their properties are located in Oregon, with a few in Nevada, California, and Washington.
Braidwood-Reid and Braidwood retain properties on the north side of Capitol Highway under the name “Hillsdale Investors.” They will continue to manage the Wardin Building (home to Please Louise, OnPoint Community Credit Union, and Cuttle Fish), and to the east, the buildings that house Hillsdale Veterinary Hospital and Casa Colima. Matt Braidwood will stay on with Dickerhoof Investments to handle maintenance and other tenant needs on the south side.
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