A blighted Beaverton lot will soon become a community hub that offers housing and shopping close to the MAX.

COURTESY OF REMBOLD - A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Rise Central recently took place. The Westgate Theater in Beaverton was known for having the longest run in the United States of the movie "Star Wars" in the 1970s. But with the theater long gone, leaving a void, that seems to be in a galaxy far, far away.

Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle, Beaverton City Council and project partners came together May 3 for a groundbreaking celebration of The Rise Central, a project on the old Westgate site at the corner of Crescent Street and Southwest Rose Biggi Avenue, across from The Round.

Doyle addressed about 130 people who attended the groundbreaking ceremony. "We are here to celebrate a milestone at The Round," Doyle said. "Fans gathered here to see the first 'Star Wars' at Westgate. Today the force is really strong."

The Rise Central will be a mixed-use development made up of two residential buildings with ground floor commercial space to fill the old Westgate theater site. Southwest Crescent Street will be extended through the site, providing pedestrian and vehicular access into the development. Additionally, an urban-designed hotel with a destination restaurant is planned for the ground floor, located in the southeast corner of the Westgate theater site.

The development will feature 230 residential units over two buildings that include bicycle storage rooms; dog and bicycle wash stations; lobbies, community rooms, decks and retail, and office spaces close to the MAX light-rail stop. It is expected to be complete in about 18 months.

According to Senior Development Project Manager Tyler Ryerson, the total project costs are $61 million. Funding includes a Metro Transit Oriented Development Grant of $625,000. Beaverton's Urban Redevelopment Agency defrayed $2.96 million for the land, and kicked in money collected from system development fees totaling more than $1.36 million.

Doyle said the upcoming project will make the area a lively, clearly defined city center.

Beaverton Police Chief Jim Monger said he is really happy about the project. "This is great," he said. "It's a long time coming. I remember patrolling this area as a young police officer when the theater was here."

Rembold Real Estate Development, the company that just completed The Rise in Old Town — which is now 40-percent leased — also is in charge of The Rise Central.

Doyle said, "Without Rembold, none of this would happen."

Doyle gave Rembold and Metro Councilor Kathryn Harrington — Metro is a partner in the project through the transit grant — with "Star Wars" memorabilia to show the city's appreciation.

"This is a tremendous day here in Beaverton," Harrington said. "This place is great. Everything is within walking distance. Rise Central will add to the center of success. Everyone needs a stable place to live."

She praised the project's proximity to public transportation.

Beaverton Chief administrative Officer, Randy Ealy, said Rembold has developed more than $700 million in real estate since 1974.

"We are really excited," said Kali Bader, vice president of Rembold Real Estate Development. "This has been a long time coming for the city and the community. It's a resurgence in Beaverton central that's a real game-changer. It will create an urban character for the city central. This is a transit-oriented development that really matters."

During her speech, Bader also referenced seeing "Star Wars" with her family at the old theater in 1977. "We really get this area. We have been a part of Beaverton our entire lives."

Rembold President Kira Cador said the new development will address a shortage of housing.

"This area will be a high-quality, urban-style," Cador said. "It will be so walkable, maybe you don't ever need to leave Beaverton."

Beaverton City Councilor Mark Fagin said, "This piece of redevelopment at this time is the most important, because it will bring the biggest change and positive impact. When this is done it will be a real game-changer."

City of Beaverton Finance Director Patrick O'Claire said, "It's going to be great. It's a great design. This will bring a lot of energy into this area. It's so close to the light rail and that could potentially help with traffic congestion."

Beaverton City Councilor Cate Arnold said, "One thing I've learned in politics is patience and perseverance. This has been a long time coming and it's the perfect thing to put here. We had to wait for a while, but it's finally coming to fruition."