The City of Cornelius held their grand opening celebration on Saturday morning for Cornelius Place which featured the new library and the residential units above.

Cornelius Place Grand Opening Celebration

More than a decade in the making, Cornelius' new library is officially open for business.

Book lovers from across Washington County were in Cornelius on Saturday, March 30, for the library's grand opening, which included plenty of games, activities and a performance from Portland pianist Michael Allen Harrison.

The new Cornelius Public Library, 1370 N Adair St., has been under construction for months, part of a large-scale redevelopment in the city's downtown. The newly completed three-story building which houses the library, known as Cornelius Place, is also home to dozens of apartments for low-income seniors and, eventually, a YMCA rec center.

The library has long been on the minds of Cornelius city officials. City officials first proposed a revamped library for the city 12 years ago. Voters in Cornelius initially rejected a $2.3 million bond for the library in 2013, and backers launched a fundraising campaign to raise money for the $19 million project on their own.

"We dreamt this, and this is the dream coming true," Mayor Jef Dalin said. "To have this beautiful three-story building in downtown, it shows what Cornelius could look like."

Dalin said the library will have a big impact on the small city west of Hillsboro.

"We're building that kernel," Dalin said. "(The library's completion) means that people believe in Cornelius. They believe in our opportunity for success. We're building sidewalks and buildings are going up. It's the belief that this is coming to fruition, they can see this positive change in the downtown core."

The library quietly opened its doors a few weeks ago. On Saturday, patrons were offered tours of the new 13,650-square-foot library, as well as the senior and low-income housing on the second and third floors. Dalin said the housing is badly needed in Cornelius. The city has one of the lowest household median incomes in the county, and there is not enough affordable housing to meet current demand, especially for seniors.

Many Cornelius residents didn't know where the previous library was located, library officials said. The new space is hard to miss. Five times larger than the previous location across the street, the new Cornelius Public Library is one of the tallest buildings in town, Dalin said. The new space has enough room to hold 30,000 books.

"We're going from such a small thing to an enormous beautiful thing right on the main drag," library director Karen Hill told the newspaper in December. "I think we're going to very easily double our business."

Christopher Oertell and Geoff Pursinger

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