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n Emails reveal city staffers, developer discussed 'opportunities' for site



HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - The former Hanks grocery store block has been vacant since the store closed in June 2014. City officials have been talking with Holland Partners Group about opportunities for the site.For the past eight months, Hillsboro city staff and representatives of the Holland Partner Group — a real estate investment and development company — have been talking about the future of the former Hank’s Thriftway property downtown.

That much is clear from staff emails obtained by the Hillsboro Tribune through a public records request. What isn’t clear is the nature of negotiations between the city and Holland — including what might be built there, and when.

On July 21, 2015, the city council authorized City Manager Michael Brown to make an offer to purchase the one-block site on Southeast Baseline Street between 6th and 7th avenues, but the property owner, Hering Investments LLC, declined it.

According to staff documents, that didn’t stop the city from pursuing development of the property through other means.

On July 30, email exchanges between city Planning Director Colin Cooper and Holland Chairman and CEO Clyde Holland have the two discussing “opportunities” for the site.

“Our working relationship with the Holland Partner Group is outstanding,” city spokesman Patrick Preston said Wednesday. “Holland’s mixed-use development in the Orenco Station neighborhood has been a great addition to the city, and has added to the quality of life that Hillsboro residents enjoy.”

Based in Vancouver, Wash., Holland Partner Group has overseen development of six completed apartment projects in Hillsboro. Four are based in the Orenco Station neighborhood (Hub9, Platform 14, Tessera and Rowlock apartments), and two are in Tanasbourne (Rock Creek Landing and Palladia).

Vector, Holland’s seventh apartment project, is currently under construction in Orenco and is expected to open this summer.

“Housing is a critical ingredient for downtown’s growth,” Preston said. “The development of the Hank’s property can be a game-changer for downtown Hillsboro, and a catalyst for additional investment in the historic downtown area and the Health and Education District.”

The property’s proximity to the TriMet MAX line and its potential for serving nearby businesses and Pacific University make it prime real estate for the city’s future plans.

As part of the Downtown Framework Plan, city staff have outlined objectives designed to “support and encourage” higher-density mixed-use housing in the downtown area along and south of Main Street near Tuality Community Hospital and Pacific University’s Health Professions Campus.

Though no plans are currently underway, Pacific University spokesman Joe Lang identified the parking lot on the corner of Southeast 8th Avenue and Southeast Washington Street as the future location of a new Pacific University building for classrooms and faculty offices.

Those plans are at least three years out, Lang said.

And since opening in May 2014, the city’s latest downtown development, Tokola Properties’ 4thMain apartment/retail complex, has proven successful by maintaining consistently low vacancy rates.

According to 4thMain Property Manager Dale Buck, the apartments are all currently occupied — and when a vacancy does open up, it’s typically filled within a week.

As the downtown area continues to grow and expand, “the need for additional housing is clear,” Preston said. “We are committed to downtown Hillsboro’s continued revitalization, and we continue to look for ways to partner with the private sector to add housing and commercial activity that will help downtown Hillsboro residents and existing businesses.”

Travis Loose

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