What's new in suburbia?
Things look very different as you turn off Southwest Tualatin Valley Highway to the new housing development known as Reed's Crossing.
New homes have mushroomed on what was soil just six months ago. You can see a mixture of plywood homes awaiting their vapor wrap and siding, children's playground equipment, pickup trucks and FedEx vans lining the brand new roads, construction workers with T-shirts on their heads for sun protection, and dog owners power walking through the greenway.
Reed's Crossing is a master-planned community from the developer Newland. This 456-acre parcel near Portland is an experiment in New Urbanism. Homes are varied in architectural style and size, from house to house. Cars are banished to the back, and living spaces face the front lawns and large public greenway to encourage walking and socializing.
And it seems to be working.
So far, 517 homes have been sold and 365 are occupied or are about to be. Plus 324 multifamily units that are on-site as well. Of those, about 250 are now occupied. That means about 1,500 people are living at Reed's Crossing already. A lot of them are white-collar folk working from (new) home.
Four o'clock and knocking off
"At about four o'clock, it's amazing, people come out of the woodwork," Eric Peterson, VP of operations at Newland, told the Business Tribune on a sunny April day in 2021. The model home's back deck looks out onto the popular walking area.
"It's four, four-thirty, and everybody's kind of calling it quits. They've been cooped up in the house all day. And they're done."
Demand for homes in the Portland area has been outstripping supply. Home prices are up 12% in a year, and the Newland homes at Reed's Crossing are up 6% just in the first quarter of 2021. 30% of the home sales that closed in Washington County in 2020 were at Reed's Crossing.
"The sales are almost outpacing the builders' ability to construct," said Peterson.
"The trades are spread pretty thin, but fortunately out here, we've got enough velocity and enough long-term work that the trades that work here will commit to these builders in a pretty significant way. This is a six- or seven-year project."
He says sales have far exceeded expectations, some of which he puts down to the stimulus package.
"We got some data back that said nationally, 60% of millennials were able to put away more money last year than they were able to in 2019, even with the pandemic." They are saving, and saving up for a home down payments.
The data also says the buyers are coming from many other states, but in Oregon, they are primarily Portlanders looking for a new life in Hillsboro where they can telecommute.
"They're people here locally that want to purchase a home and don't have to be right where they're working anymore," said Peterson.
Millennials are starting to peak: they are now aged 40 to 25.
"This is a demographic shift that started before the pandemic. There's a cohort of Millennials that are now reaching their prime home-buying years where they're coupling up, and they're having kids."
He says such buyers want amenities — many of which are not yet built — and low maintenance homes, meaning brand new. The amenities are paid for with Home Owner Association fees: $99 a month for a single-family home (front yard maintenance and the architectural review) and $249 for multifamily homes like townhomes (full maintenance). Homes at Reeds Crossing range from roughly $400,000 to $800,000.
Peterson admits it's a seller's market. "If you're selling homes right now, you're going to do well. It's just there's a lack of supply in the market and an increase in demand. Increased prices, but it's pretty easy to sell. But we've done significantly better than everybody else because this is different than your normal subdivision."
The developer is adding triplexes that come with Accessory Dwelling Units to provide as many varieties of "product" as possible. The middle unit is the front door, and the end units have their entries on the side, so you don't see three doors.
Paetsch, who has been marketing homes at Reed's Crossing for six months, said new people often like the place, "But, they're like, 'I don't know what it is about it?' I had that same feeling." When Peterson explained how New Urbanism decenters the car, connects people, and promotes an active lifestyle, she got it.
Paetsch said they surveyed their shoppers and buyers who said over the last 12 months, they have all been spending more time online, in the kitchen, and doing DIY — even though their homes are brand new.
There are for sale signs up too — some people have already come and gone. She cites one home that already resold for $100,000 over its original price. Things move quickly here; jobs change, kids sprout.
Parks and rec
One of the new parks, run by the City of Hillsboro, is almost ready. As we toured, a tractor was still leveling the ground for grass. The playground has passed inspection, and although it is not officially open until July 4, 2021, some adults were inside the fence, playing with their kids. A bocce ball court awaited its crushed oyster shells, and the firepit its Adirondack chairs. Two dog parks are coming in the next phase, to the east, and a bouldering area is planned. A pair of tweens and their friends arrived at the skate pod (like a skate park, only smaller and less dangerous) just after noon, which is when school gets out these days. They biked from other neighborhoods.
A patch of long grass nearby is the site of an elementary school opening in Fall 2023.
A hundred yards north, Dobbin Park, named for the original farmer-landowner, consists of a mature oak tree surrounded by grass, with a red play structure nearby. There's an attempt to hang on to some natural features of the old landscape, not just bulldoze the greenfield flat and build cookie-cutter homes and amenities.
Peterson, who lives near Northwest 23rd Avenue, is optimistic about Reed's Crossing's popularity. He sees a flight to the suburbs. He's just trying to market the right kind of suburbs.
As for downtown Portland with its defunct restaurants and businesses, he says, "(Northwest) is opening up a bit. But I think it'll take a long time for the downtown core to come back. To open a restaurant, you've got to come up with a concept, find an investor, staff it. That takes years."
That's a long time in Reed's Crossing.
The South Hillsboro Master Plan includes two other housing developments, Butternut Creek and West Rosedale Park.
The master plan calls for parks, three schools, and a town center with shops and businesses to give it a neighborhood feel within two years. The first part of that town center is the future Providence health and wellness center being built by Mortenson to open in 2022. It will have physical therapy rooms, small indoor and large outdoor pools, a juice bar, as well as regular doctor offices. The site is the corner of TV Highway and Cornelius Pass Road.
The goal is to attract people with walkable services in an area that right now has little more than a Jack in the Box, a 7-Eleven, and a boat shop.
"Providence is really focusing heavily on wellness and preventative health, more than just treating illness," Dan Mehls, Mortenson's VP and general manager for Portland, told the Business Tribune. It'll provide physical therapy in the same place you go to the gym, which is unique.
The builder has worked with Providence before. Mortenson, in partnership with Seavest and Providence, will own the facility. Mortenson Construction, as the design builder with Ankrom Moisan, will deliver the facility.
Who wants a Newland home?
Shoppers by state
(edited for length)
Buyers by state
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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