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City leadership thankful voters approved plan; future development, infrastructure planned

PMG FILE PHOTO - Voters approved an extension of the Rockwood-West Gresham Urban Renewal District. An overwhelming majority of Gresham voters said "yes" to Ballot Measure 26-223 Rockwood-West Gresham Renewal Plan Extension — a mouthful of a measure that means further monetary support for developments and programs in Rockwood.

The proposal passed with 71% of the vote during the Tuesday, May 17 election, and marks a continued focus on creating positive outcomes for Rockwood.

"Thanks to the community for supporting this extension and all the leadership who have made the urban renewal district so successful," said Gresham City Manager Nina Vetter.

"Thank you Gresham voters — approving this measure will only help add more community amenities to our great city," wrote Rep. Ricki Ruiz, D-Gresham.

With approval the measure now extends the urban renewal district through June 30, 2029, a six-year addition from the current expiration date in 2023. The district allows Gresham to spend $37 million on new projects centered in Rockwood, including transportation, housing, job creation, small business support, and parks and recreation. It is most often used for infrastructure and economic development.

It also doesn't add any new property taxes. Instead the system dedicates funds to a specific region, like Rockwood, for improvements.

The district was first passed by voters in 2003. It is 1,211 acres and extends from Northeast 181st Avenue, Burnside and Stark Street, to just north of Interstate 84. In 2020 the city conducted a review of the district, finding the $44 million city investment led to $179 million in private investment, the relocation of 40 new businesses, and nearly 700 jobs.

The up-in-lights results from the urban renewal district are the fancy new buildings like the ones in Downtown Rockwood. The 5.5-acre plot of land includes a public plaza with play structures and a splash pad; an innovation hub, retail stores, apartments and the Rockwood Market Hall.

But the district does more than just development. In past years it funded 181st corridor improvements by upgrading seven traffic signals, and retrofitted Burnside, between 181st and 197th, with street scaping to improve access for pedestrians, bicyclists and public transportation. The district also funded a dozen storefront improvement grants for existing businesses in the region.

"We want to continue engaging with the community to guide future projects," Vetter said.

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