2014: Nyberg Rivers shopping center transforms Tualatin
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.
For years, the most recognizable landmark in Tualatin that one could see along the west side of Interstate 5 was a strip club called Jiggles, with a garish pink sign easily visible from the freeway.
That changed in 2014, when the strip club gave way to a strip mall — one of Washington County's largest.
Nyberg Rivers joined Bridgeport Village, which Tualatin shares with neighboring Tigard and Durham, and Nyberg Woods as a premier shopping destination in the region. It also brought major changes to the city's transportation system and, ultimately, the way the municipal government conducts its business.
For months before the shopping center opened, The Times printed front-page stories previewing what was to come.
A story in May 2013 heralded "big expectations" for Cabela's, the sporting goods store that opened its second Oregon location at Nyberg Rivers the following fall. A February 2014 article profiled Brian Keith, the sculptor who created a life-size statue of a juvenile mastodon, which now stands outside Cabela's and has become a symbol of Tualatin.
Jiggles, the doomed strip club off I-5, was the subject of the paper's lead story in one June 2014 issue. It was a final look back at the one-of-a-kind legacy the alcohol-free club left behind.
"For many teens in Tualatin and the surrounding area, a trip to Jiggles truly was a rite of passage," reporter Caitlin Feldman wrote. "Unable to go to other clubs of its kind, Jiggles was where high school boys went on their 18th birthdays, and where they'd then sit awkward and confused, unsure where to look — first were the dancing girls, then came the fear of seeing a familiar face."
The business officially lost its lease on June 21, 2014. Less than a month later, the building was demolished, making room for three restaurants at Nyberg Rivers.
As the opening of the shopping center loomed, the Tualatin City Council was pressed to decide what to do with the building where it met, just east of Southwest Martinazzi Avenue. The building was the closest thing Tualatin had to a city hall, housing the council chambers and several city offices. But it was also in the way of a proposed extension of Southwest Seneca Street, which the city and developer CenterCal Properties wanted as a route into and out of the new shopping center.
"I was always taught as a child, if you need an answer right now, the answer should be no," said then-City Councilor Wade Brooksby, one of three council members — including then-Mayor Lou Ogden and then-Councilor Frank Bubenik, who was elected to succeed Ogden in 2018 — whoopposed the council's decision to demolish the building and extend Seneca Street.
Ogden, presciently, predicted that Tualatin would struggle to replace the building. To this day, city offices are scattered throughout Tualatin. Some, including that of the city manager, moved across Martinazzi Avenue to a rented second-floor suite, and others now take up a wing of the Tualatin Public Library. The City Council has now been meeting for years in an ostensibly temporary space, the dining room of the Juanita Pohl Center.
Cabela's, the centerpiece of Nyberg Rivers, held its grand opening on Sept. 18, 2014. Nearly 4,000 people came from all across the region despite rainy weather.
"I can't really describe it," marveled Rob Epler, Cabela's fishing manager, of the grand opening. "At some point, you just had to stop and realize you weren't breathing and collect your bearings."
With Cabela's leading the way, the major retailers at Nyberg Rivers opened up in rapid succession. The last of them, New Seasons Market, opened Oct. 22, 2014.
While 2014 was the year that Nyberg Rivers blinked into being, the shopping center has continued — more sporadically, now that it's open — to grab headlines.
In February 2016, Tualatin opened an extension of the Tualatin River Greenway Trail that connects the Nyberg Rivers to its older cousin on the east side of the freeway, Nyberg Woods, passing beneath I-5 along the way.
In April 2017, Nyberg Rivers welcomed Oregon's first Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, to wild fanfare.
And in 2018, as Mayor Ogden prepared to leave office, he devoted much of his annual State of the City address to discussing Tualatin's accomplishments during his 24 years as mayor. Prominent among them: the completion of Nyberg Rivers.
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