South Hillsboro will be 'development-ready' next year, city planners say
Published: Friday, March 23, 2012, 4:52 PM Updated: Friday, March 23, 2012, 5:01 PM
By Casey Parks, The Oregonian
After 15 years of planning, South Hillsboro could become a reality next year, the city has announced.
In Thursday's packed open house inside Brown Middle School, city planners said the city will begin looking for voluntary annexations soon. This summer, the council will consider approving a comprehensive plan for the 1,417-acre mixed-use area.
But before then, the city has a lot of work to do, said Jeannine Rustad, the city's urban planner.
"I keep telling people, 'See how much gray hair I have before the end of this,'" she said.
In 1998, Hillsboro began planning for the community, which is outside city limits. Leaders intended it to be a "complete community." That means schools within walking distance, parks, trails, a main street with a town center, and 11,000 diverse homes.
The city council endorsed the plan in 2008, but staff soon realized it didn't have a solid transportation plan to accommodate the growth.
Last year, the city secured a $250,000 Transportation and Growth Management grant then began working on a study of Tualatin Valley Highway, as well as local transportation solutions for South Hillsboro. The local fixes include developing Southwest Cornelius Pass into the area's main corridor, possibly expanding it to five lanes and linking it to Southwest Alexander and Blanton street extensions. The city is also looking at improvements for the intersection of Southwest 209th Avenue and Tualatin Valley Highway. Now the city is considering two development options. Both include a mix of low-, medium- and high-density housing. One option includes an additional mixed-use neighborhood center at Southwest 229th Avenue and Rosedale Road. The planning commission will review a blend of the options at its April 11 meeting.
Rustad said the city will reach out to property owners in the area this summer to offer incentives for voluntary annexation. Members from Aloha's citizen participation organization bristled at that news, but Rustad insisted the city respects the Aloha-Reedville area, which is adjacent to South Hillsboro.
"The city does not like to come and forcibly grab you in," Rustad said.
At Aloha's last CPO meeting, some members said the South Hillsboro plan does not include enough jobs. Aloha has about 55,000 residents but only 7,000 jobs, according to a Washington County report released last fall. Many in Aloha hoped South Hillsboro might bring more jobs.
Rustad said the area is just one piece of the city's plan for Western Washington County. City studies show that by 2015 or 2017, the area will have a shortage of housing, not jobs, she said. She added that South Hillsboro will create retail and commercial jobs.
Even if developers begin building next year, the project won't see a full build-out for 20 more years. But the area's two biggest property owners -- Newland Communities, which owns the 463-acre former St. Mary's property, and Joe Hanauer, who owns the 189-acre Butternut Creek parcel -- are eager to start.
"They've been ready, willing and waiting a long time," Rustad said.