When you think of Madras, live music isn’t typically what comes to mind. But that might just change in the next year with the opening of a new amphitheater and restaurant.
It’s the brainchild of Portland developer Andre Jackson, who believes investing in Madras means investing in all of Central Oregon.
“As I began to do my research, I realized Bend is starting to bust at the seams in a number of ways. And then most people are moving to Redmond and I believe the next city will be Madras,” Jackson said.
The $2 million project will be constructed on the site of the old Wild Bleu boutique building on SW 5th Street, partially funded through a grant from the City of Madras.
The event center known as “The Spot” will feature a restaurant with a two-story seating area, food trucks and fire pits.
The amphitheater portion will be able to seat 300 people for outdoor concerts. When poor weather hits, a tent will cover the space to seat 200 underneath it.
Jackson hopes to bring in not just local artists, but potentially the opening acts from performances at Hayden Homes Amphitheater in Bend.
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The “John Brown Amphitheater” will carry not just music, but history as well.
“John Brown was the first African-American to live in this particular part of Central Oregon, in Madras,” Jackson said. “He homesteaded in the 1880s, about 20 miles just north of here in the canyon.”
Brown farmed on a 160-acre allotment, which he partially sold off in 1891 to move to Prineville.
In the 1960s, Jackson said, certain locals starting referring to Brown’s former farmland with a name that included a racial epithet.
“John Ramsey, one of our members on the naming committee, and his kids decided to take action and get that officially renamed,” Jackson said. “So they worked for about a year with the USDA Geographical Department and the State of Oregon Geographical Department to officially get a change back to John Brown Canyon. So I felt that that was significant enough to represent and honor someone that gave so much to this particular part of the country.”
The town of 8,000 is the final city before you head north to Portland — a stop Jackson thinks is worth a second look.
“The big piece for me was about having a space where you can operate different types of events, that was kind of fluid in its ability to meet the desires and the needs of the larger community,” he said. “Not just Madras, but I’m really looking to connect with not only the Portland market, but also central Oregon and eastern Oregon as well.”
It’s the first of a few Madras projects Jackson has in mind, including an apartment triplex and a steakhouse.
“The city has been very diligent and where it has worked really hard to understand what are those things they need to do in order to attract developers like myself and others to come invest in the city,” Jackson added.
The groundbreaking for The Spot will be sometime this month, and it’s likely to open in April 2024.