The making of a suburb: South Hillsboro takes shape
In January, the Reed's Crossing welcome center was just a bunch of two-by-fours and plywood in a sea of green. Now, it feels like a show home, with meeting rooms where brokers can bring clients and maybe seal a deal.
Outside, saplings with their roots in burlap lay waiting to be planted, and orange-clad workers heaved up the frame of a house. Guests in heels picked their way along the virgin sidewalks to the front door.
In one corner of the living room was a bike attached to a virtual reality station. Interested parties can "ride" around the completed neighborhood, waving at virtual joggers and admiring a perfect view of Mount Hood.
This part of South Hillsboro will eventually be filled with 4,000 homes and about 20,000 residents. But at this point it's all about imagining how it will look when it is finished. Crews are working to get the first few hundred homes built and occupied, Brentlinger said. Phase one houses will go for up to $750,000, townhomes will start at $300,000.
David Brentlinger, vice president of operations at housing developer Newland, said potential Hillsboro residents prefer a natural-looking green space with passive recreation instead of a community center or swimming pool. That's what they're getting, he said.
Brentlinger's job is to spark interest in Reed's Crossing and get homes sold. The homebuilders have their own sales staff, working inside model homes, but there are not enough of them. They need the boots-on-the-ground realtors from across the Portland area to bring in people who like the idea of a "walkable" neighborhood a bike ride away from Intel and Nike. They represent the homebuyer in discussions with the home builders.
Newland owns 463 acres of the 1,400-acre South Hillsboro project. In this development, variety is the spice of life, with seven models of home to choose from. Spec homes being built for those who don't want to wait.
When finished, South Hillsboro will function as a city within the city. Maps in the welcome center show where new schools will be built, as well as nearby shops, movie theaters and health services.
"The shops are along TV Highway (right now)," he said. "There's a Starbucks, there's a couple of grocery stores ... To the south is the South Hillsboro planning district, 1,400 acres, and we're 463 acres of that."
Alexander Phan, principal broker with Keller Williams Realty Professional in Portland, has been selling real estate for 13 years. He said he sees South Hillsboro as a chance for brokers across the area to succeed.
"This is a different process from resale. If you do like new homes, this is a fantastic opportunity, to see a community of this scale," said Phan, who manages 10 sales agents and is president of the Asian Association of Realtors. "It gives the public a variety of options we don't have right now in the marketplace."
Broker Darren Amico of the Hasson Company Realtors said South Hillsboro is exciting for realtors across the region.
"This would be a great place to bring my clients," Amico said. "People want to live close in and they like the idea of a community around them, but often times affordability limits that so the bedroom communities are what people are looking at: Trails, shopping, community centers, nice houses, affordable places to live. I think it's going to be a great opportunity."
Newland's marketing director Rimpal Singh said focus groups with millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers help to plan the future phases of Reed's Crossing.
"Trends are constantly changing," Singh said. "People moving from San Francisco might not want 3,000 square feet, they might want an ecofriendly home, 1,200 or 1,300 square feet. Or (retirees) might want a master bedroom on the ground floor."
It could be the first sign of a reversal of the trend of rebuilding central cities.
"We have community outreach, closed-door meetings with local employers. (We ask) 'You're hiring thousands of people next year, who are they, where are they moving from?' And we're hearing they're hiring a lot of millennials, and a lot of these millennials no longer want to live in Portland. It's all about work life balance. They don't want to commute, but they're frustrated because there has been a lack of housing in Hillsboro."