As Mayor Denny Doyle says, Beaverton is booming.
Since he delivered his State of the City address at the start of the year, three new hotels have begun construction and city planners have cleared the way for a fourth. A fifth opened a few months before Doyle's remarks — so when all projects are completed, Beaverton will add 550 rooms on top of the 1,051 tallied in a 2014 city report.
More than 60 restaurants, including a brewpub and a wine bar, have opened within walking distance of the Beaverton Central MAX station across from City Hall.
Businesses are scrambling to hire employees.
Redevelopments are underway or planned at the former Kmart site on Southwest Murray Boulevard, the Cedar Hills Shopping Center south of Sunset Highway near Highway 217, and part of the Cedar Hills Crossing mall.
The long-awaited Center for the Arts, named in honor of major donor Patricia Reser, will break ground later this year, along with a seven-story parking garage.
Lorraine Clarno has a front-row seat to much of this new development. The arts center, parking garage and Hyatt House are steps from the offices of the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce, where Clarno is president and chief executive.
"It's going to be a complicated two years as all of this development comes to life," she said. "But once it is up, it is going to continue to be a catalyst. What happens here in the next couple of years is going to be amazing in the long run."
Also open this year is The Rise Central, which consists of 215 market-rate apartments and 15 units set aside for lower-income people.
"Beaverton has done a good job developing the cool factor. It is the younger generation that is the reason the city embarked on a downtown strategy," Clarno said. "We have figured out a formula that keeps business growing downtown and attracts people to the community."
It took a few years after city officials bought The Beaverton Building at The Round in February 2012 and renovated it for use as City Hall in August 2014. The Round also houses The Lofts to the north of the Beaverton Central light rail station.
"The Round itself was a development before its time. There wasn't the density to support a town center development," Clarno said. "It was when the city bought The Beaverton Building and moved 500 people (city employees) over here that we started to see the original vision manifest itself."
One of Clarno's next-door office neighbors is PrideStaff Beaverton, an agency that fills full- and part-time jobs.
"Every day, he could be putting 50 people to work," Clarno said of Robert Cohen, its owner. "It is hard right now for businesses to find good employees with essential skills. That is one of the cons of a really robust economy."
The July unemployment rate for Washington County was just 3.3%, second lowest only to Benton County. In Oregon, it was 4%; across the nation, 3.7%.
Beaverton's labor force is about 42,000, virtually all with high school diplomas and nearly half with college degrees.
While much of the attention has focused on new construction, mixed-use redevelopment is taking place at the former Kmart site on Murray Boulevard and is proposed for the Cedar Hills Shopping Center on Southwest Park Way. Both projects combine retail space with residential housing.
Part of Cedar Hills Crossing also is affected with the recent opening of KingPins Family Entertainment Center, formerly Sunset Lanes, and other proposed changes in the 50-year-old shopping mall.
Clarno says that along with two-, three- and four-unit housing in metro area neighborhoods formerly zoned for single-family houses, such redevelopment is part of Beaverton's future.
"I think it's inevitable, especially now with a state law that says single-family zoning is gone," she said. "It will not have much of an impact on our area, because that is how the trend has been going."
By Peter Wong
Reporter, The Times/News-Times
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