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GEOFF PURSINGER - City leaders and stakeholders break ground on a new apartment complex and commercial building on Southwest Ash Avenue.It was wet and cold on Monday, but for several of the men and women standing at the construction site, the day couldn’t have been any better,


“We have been thinking about this for years,” said Tigard Mayor John L. Cook.

On Monday, city officials broke ground on a new $30 million apartment complex on Southwest Ash Avenue and Burnham Street.

Two apartment complex buildings will be built on the site, one a three-story building and one a four-story building. Both will have storefronts on the ground level for local businesses.

City officials have said they hope the mix of new apartments and stores in the downtown will serve as a catalyst for the area and spur more development.

Downtown businesses are expecting to see an influx of customers as well.

“We believe that beds bring business,” said Steve DeAngelo, the president of the Tigard Downtown Alliance, a coalition of businesses and property owners aimed at increasing business in the downtown. “The addition of 165 market-rate apartments and 300 new customers in our downtown core is very important to us.”

For years, the property belonged to the city and housed the Ash Avenue Dog Park and the city’s city’s fleet of public works vehicles.

The city has wanted to bring more housing to the downtown for more than a decade and did everything it could to make the project enticing to developers.

In April, the city sold what previously had been publically-owned land for $1.65 million and agreed to forego $1.15 million in fees and charges from developers.

The project is also eligible for the city’s vertical housing development zone, a state-run program that would give the project a partial property tax reduction over the next 10 years; city leaders estimate that the project will see about $1.4 million in partial property tax reductions. Despite those tax breaks, Tigard could collect as much as $6 million in property taxes over the next 20 years, city leaders said.

The city relocated Ash Avenue Dog Park across the street and moved its public works yard up Ash Avenue. The yard once housed the city’s fleet of dump trucks, snowplows and other equipment.

The plans call for 166 market-rate apartments and 2,000 square feet of commercial space between the two buildings.

Cook said that the many amenities around the area should be a big draw for tenants.

“With things like transportation and shopping and amenities that they haven’t had before, like access to the Fanno Creek Trail and the dog park, those are things that you can’t just find anywhere,” Cook said.

But city officials have said that the dog park's location is likely temporary. That property, at 9025 S.W. Burnham Street, is also available for development, which means that the park might move again within the next decade.

Construction on the apartment complex is expected to wrap up by February 2017.

“This is a turning point for downtown Tigard,” Kenny Asher, the director of the city’s Community Development Department, said in a statement. “The district has never before seen this kind of infusion of private capital, nor this much housing, nor this many dollars soon to be shopping up and down Main Street. It is a tremendous accomplishment.”

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