Groundwork laid for new homes in Cornelius
Emmert's River West off South 10th Avenue in Cornelius is starting to look like a real live subdivision — all it needs is houses.
The new residential development is expected to feature some 64 homes once fully built out. That's a fairly dense concentration of single-family detached houses for a piece of land about 8.15 acres in size — a number that includes parts that will be dedicated as public right-of-way — but the tradeoff is that the modestly sized houses will be priced to move even in a sellers' real estate market.
"It's a mix of one- and two-story homes from 1,600 to 2,000 square feet," said Mike Wilshire, the subdivision's real estate agent. "Prices, we don't have approved pricing yet. However, it sounds like it's going to be the high threes, slightly above mid. We're talking ($375,000 to $390,000)."
Wilshire added, "We think we're going to be very successful here."
The land where the subdivision is being built has been owned for close to two decades by Terry Emmert, the Clackamas-based developer estimated. But longtime residents of the Cornelius area will probably know it best as the "horse barn property."
"It was a house stable and arena for a long, long time," noted Ryan Wells, the city's community development director.
The development has streets, curbs, streetlights, utility lines and more, all built over the past several months — it's just awaiting the start of home construction, likely to come within the next month or two. It is sited just south of South Flax Plant Road, not far from the southern city limits, and kitty-corner from Echo Shaw Elementary School.
Because of its density, Emmert's River West won't have its own green spaces or play areas. Normally, that would be an issue; however, Wells said its proximity to Harleman Park, just north of Echo Shaw, meant that the city was satisfied with simply requiring the developers to improve pedestrian access to the park. That meant installing a pedestrian-activated flashing beacon for the crosswalk on 10th Avenue at Flax Plant Road, thus providing a neighborhood amenity that also benefits Echo Shaw families.
"10th is kind of a pain to cross sometimes," Wells said. "It's an industrial roadway. … You get traffic during peak hours that gets pretty heavy. And so when you have a family, you have kids in a stroller or something, trying to cross 10th to get to the school or the park, it's a little bit precarious."
The beacon is meant to make crossing 10th Avenue easier and safer. A pedestrian or cyclist can simply touch a button when they want to cross, and flashing lights will alert motorists in both directions that the crosswalk is in use.
Emmert's River West also brings another new feature to the area: the woonerf. The street type, originally built in Belgium and the Netherlands, resembles a particularly long driveway, or perhaps an unusually wide sidewalk.
"These are actually public rights-of-way," Wells said. "They're concrete. They're kind of, in a way, glorified driveways — but it's a shared surface where it's expected to be vehicle access to a limited number of residential lots, but also, it's where pedestrians and bicycles can also travel."
Installing woonerfs as part of Emmert's River West was the idea of a city engineer who saw how the street type works on a visit to Europe, according to Wells.
"We'd never heard of it around here," Wells said. "He's very cutting-edge — likes to push the envelope and try new things."
The first houses in Emmert's River West are expected to begin construction in late June or early July, Wells said. Construction is expected to be phased, with the first round including 14 or 15 houses. Sidewalks and street trees will also be put in during construction, he noted, building out the streets within the development to city standards.
Wells estimates work on the development is just slightly ahead of two others in Cornelius, to the north of the Highway 8 corridor that roughly bisects the city.
In total, about 1,200 housing units have been approved for development in Cornelius, Wells said — most, but not all, in the form of single-family detached houses like those that will be built at Emmert's River West. The bulk of those houses are planned for the Laurel Woods subdivision, a roughly 900-lot neighborhood being built in Cornelius' southeastern corner, just north of the Tualatin River.
By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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