2011: Beaverton's rebuild begins with urban renewal
Editor's note: This story is part of the The Times' special series, "Decade in Review." This series features three stories that helped to define each year of the 2010s. These can retell single stories that captivated readers of the time, a saga that played out across many articles, and even stories that were crowded to the margins by other news at the time but have made a lasting impact on our region.
Not all cities require urban renewal plans to be submitted to voters for their approval. But in those that do, city leaders tend to worry about their prospects.
The Times has written about urban renewal many times before. In virtually every story, the newspaper includes a paragraph (or two) that goes something like this:
"Urban renewal uses what is called 'tax increment financing' to pay for projects in the urban renewal plan. Despite its name, tax increment financing isn't a tax increase. Instead, it caps the amount in property taxes collected by the city and any other taxing district — such as Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, for instance — and puts any revenue that's collected above that 'frozen base' for a set amount of time toward urban renewal. This money, called the 'tax increment,' will grow over time due to inflation, rising property values and other economic factors."
The Times' reporters have plenty of practice by now, but it's still a rather difficult concept to explain, even though the way it works is actually pretty simple.
As it turned out, Beaverton city leaders didn't have much to worry about. Voters approved an urban renewal plan to spruce up Central Beaverton and other areas of the city by about a 10-point margin in the November 2011 election.
Aspects of the plan included making Southwest Canyon Road, signed as Highway 8, more pedestrian-friendly; establishing a "downtown identity" with plazas and mixed-use developments; and improving bike trails and sidewalks throughout the city.
Beaverton was actually one of the earliest adopters of urban renewal in Oregon, having passed an urban renewal plan in 1972. That plan had long since expired, though, and city leaders — including Mayor Denny Doyle — were adamant that Beaverton needed a new direction for development.
"We're going to move Beaverton from the '50s to this century," Doyle declared after the unofficial election results came in.
It's taken a few years, but that redevelopment is now in full force in Central Beaverton and sections of Highway 8. Upscale apartment buildings like The Rise Central have become new additions to what increasingly resembles an actual skyline in the downtown district. Beaverton City Hall relocated to The Round, a downtown office building along the MAX light rail line, in August 2014. The city has even welcomed a food cart pod, BG Food Cartel — but that's another story.
It wasn't just Beaverton voters who laid the groundwork for growth and redevelopment in 2011.
Voters in the Tigard-Tualatin School District approved a bond measure in May to pay for improvements throughout the district. The five-year bond was considered enough of a success that voters approved another bond measure to replace it in 2016.
In Tigard, the City Council approved the annexation of more than 230 acres of land called River Terrace, along Southwest Roy Rogers Road. That annexation wasn't without controversy, as it re-ignited old fears of some residents of unincorporated Bull Mountain — stemming from a mid-2000s duel between the city and residents over Tigard's plans to annex the mostly well-to-do residential area — that the city was preparing to absorb them as well. While that hasn't come to pass, River Terrace has flourished, with hundreds of new homes popping up starting in 2015 and plans to build even more in the early to mid-2020s.
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