Development vision for Block 67 proposed
Plans for Block 67, the former Hank's Thriftway-turned city-owned vacant lot in downtown Hillsboro, are beginning to take shape.
Portland real estate development firm Project^ released early proposals for the site in mid-June, calling for a 16,000-square-foot grocery store, along with 217 apartments, 100,000 square feet of medical office space, 4,500 square feet of retail space and 420 underground parking spots.
The plans are a starting point — city staff and Project^ are still working to refine the plans for the site — but give an indication of what the property might look like when it is eventually developed.
Hank's Thriftway stood at 661 S.E. Baseline St. in downtown for decades, but closed in 2015. The city purchased the property a year later for $4.8 million, with plans to redevelop the site into a mix of apartments and businesses.
City officials say staff have been working to formulate a plan for the space that would cater to not only the city's needs, but also the growing community at large.
In January, the city began early work on what the eventual development might look like, saying a variety of housing, hotels and retail were essential for the site.
Officials have hosted open houses, public meetings and received community input for future development on the site.
"There were a series of goals and policies (brought forward) that talked about providing various housing choices, encouraging redevelopment activities in downtown and providing open space and amenities for area residents and Hillsboro citizens," said Dan Dias, the city's economic development director. "What is currently in the plans is really that developer's reflection of what the community had put forward ... and includes open space components, housing components and office components."
The city commissioned studies on the local housing market, grocery market and retail market to better understand what is needed for that site.
Residents in the area have asked repeatedly for a grocery store to be placed on the site, though city officials have said the area likely wouldn't be able to sustain a large supermarket like Thriftway.
"There is market support for a niche retailer that could be folded into a more comprehensive mixed-use development plan," the city reported from the analysis.
That store would likely look more like Trader Joe's, or other smaller-scale specialty food shops.
Block 67 plays an important role in downtown Hillsboro, Dias said. With TriMet MAX lines on one side and the Oak Street/Baseline Street light rail corridor on the other, the location is easily accessible to people from all over the area.
"We believe the entire city of Hillsboro and probably beyond (will benefit)," he said. "There are elements of this site and this project that can be an open space and the amenities draw to a very broad range of citizens and entities."
Dias said the site also serves as an opportunity to better the connection between historic downtown Hillsboro and Pacific University and Tuality Community Hospital, which have campuses across the street from the property.
"It's an opportunity to deliver quite a bit of value to downtown," he said. "We believe that this is a site that plays an important piece specifically to downtown and really catalyzing additional reinvestment and revitalization of our broader downtown area."
Officials will continue working out the logistics of the proposal, specifically the associated costs, Dias said, and then take the finalized version to City Council for approval as early as this fall.
If plans move forward, the city would sell the $4.8 million property to Project^ to begin development. A final sale of the property would need to be approved by the Hillsboro City Council.
Just when construction will begin is uncertain. Dias said there is no set timeline for bringing the plans to fruition or how much the plans will change with future community and City Council input.
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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