2015: iFLY comes to burgeoning 'activity neighborhood'
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.
Have you ever been curious about skydiving — just not curious enough to actually step out of a perfectly good airplane and plunge thousands of feet toward the ground?
iFLY contends it has the answer for that. It operates tower-like facilities around the country, each of them built around a vertical wind tunnel that simulates the experience of skydiving.
The Texas-based company brought the indoor skydiving experience to Tigard as it opened a hotly anticipated facility at Southwest Greenburg Road and Cascade Avenue in November 2015.
iFLY Portland, as it's called — despite the fact it's in Tigard — stands five stories high. It needs to be that tall, as company officials explained, to accommodate the main attraction: the transparent cylinder in which individuals and groups ride the air currents and "skydive" just inches or feet above soft safety netting.
"It turns out that when you take all of the danger out of skydiving, everybody wants to do it," said Bill Adams, vice president of iFLY parent company SkyVenture.
Located just off Highway 217, iFLY was immediately heralded as a "destination" for Tigard. Even now, weekend flight times at the facility tend to book up days in advance.
But beyond the unique experience that iFLY offers, the opening of the facility in 2015 nudged an area best known for big-box retailers — including Toys R Us, which went out of business in 2018 — toward having a new identity of its own.
When Rose City Futsal announced in 2016, months after the iFLY Portland grand opening, that it would open a second facility in Tigard, company officials cited location as a big reason they were excited about landing a space in Washington County's third-largest city.
"We're excited about our moving into the 'activity neighborhood,'" Rose City Futsal general manager Kevin Murray told the Tigard-Tualatin Times, listing other businesses in the area: "iFLY, Harley-Davidson and Sky High (Sports Trampoline Park) are all visible from our location."
Also nearby are Fisherman's Marine & Outdoor, a sporting goods store, and Bob Lanphere's Beaverton Motorcycles, another motorcycle dealer.
Intentional or not, it certainly is a good theme for the area across Highway 217 from Washington Square mall — that's where you shop, and this is where you play.
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