Newberg Downtown Coalition presents its annual review
Potential changes in the landscape of downtown Newberg are in the works by a number of agencies.
Plans for pedestrian friendly streets, concepts for new hotels, the potential re-use of aging buildings and ideas to reduce lanes on First and Hancock streets are evolving.
In December 2016, the Newberg Downtown Coalition created an improvement plan for a 92-acre area of downtown Newberg. Last week, Community Development Director Doug Rux summarized last year's achievements at the City Council meeting
The plan is threefold, to build upon the good "bones" of the area; to use as a master conceptual plan for the area; to carry out the community's vision for downtown as a place to live, work, shop and play, according to the coalition.
The growth of the Bite of Newberg food cart pod and the opening of a parking lot for George Fox University's commuter students were two of the most visible tenets of the NDC's plan.
The vacancy of Habitat of Humanity's former site on Main Street prompted the possibility of new businesses entering the site, including a brewery and the concept of a hotel, in addition to the artist spaces already created at the Chehalem Mill site.
Potential plans for Second Street include two apartment projects between South College and South Howard streets. The Hoover-Minthorn House Museum received some foundation work and a small grant for signage. An empty lot still sits after the demolition of the former PGE building at the corner of College and Second streets.
The Chehalem Park and Recreation District has constructed an outdoor patio area at the cultural center to provide more space for activities.
The coalition commissioned an appraisal for the former Butler property across First Street from city hall, with the possibility that a hotel could be constructed on the site.
Chapters Books and Coffee received a $93,000 grant from the Oregon Main Street Revitalization Grant program and restored the front façade of its First Street to its original appearance.
The possibility of trolley continues with research and feasibility studies to run the trolley on the railroad track on Blaine Street.
To identify special designation traffic areas in downtown to make is pedestrian friendly, the city must work with the Oregon Department of Transportation and other agencies. ODOT has not taken new traffic counts since the Newberg-Dundee bypass was completed; the state agency wants to do that when it is at high traffic season in order to see how to proceed.
The downtown plan "road diet" includes pedestrian amenities and lane reductions. Discussions are ongoing between the city and ODOT to make improvements to First and Hancock streets, including reducing travel lanes.
"If you're on First Street your still going to need a travel lane going eastbound; there will still need to be a three-lane section going to College (Street), because of the volume making a left," Rux said. "If you're coming from the east to the west on Hancock Street, it would be three lanes up to College (Street) to address the issues of traffic volumes turning on Meridian (Street) and on College (Street) into the university … There is another area that will need three lanes at Main (Street) in order to address the queuing and stacking there."
To make all this happen next year, the city will need to discuss freight mobility issues and have conversations with property owners downtown.