Bridges over 217 mulled for Washington Square redevelopment
Tigard is asking area residents what they would think if the city constructed a pedestrian/bike bridge and/or a multimodal bridge over Highway 217, north and south of Southwest Greenburg Road.
Those are among the possibilities Tigard is looking at as it further defines its Washington Square Regional Center plan.
"The multimodal bridge would be used to connect the commercial areas, and the ped/bike bridge would be used to connect residential areas to parks and trails," explained Lauren Scott, community engagement coordinator for Tigard's community development department.
She stressed that the bridges are only "potential" future crossings. Tigard city officials want the public to tell them whether such proposed crossings should move forward.
If there is support, Tigard's next move would be to conduct financial and technical feasibility studies.
The proposed crossings are different from the multimodal bridge Tigard had previously looked at building alongside the Southwest Corridor light rail project, which is in limbo after voters rejected a ballot measure to pay for it last November. That bridge would have crossed Highway 217 as well.
Scott said that bridge plan has been placed on hold indefinitely after the defeat of Metro's Get Moving 2020 measure last November.
Tigard is in the middle of an ambitious update to the Washington Square Regional Center, an 827-acre site that not only includes the regional mall, which is in Tigard city limits, but also parts of Beaverton and unincorporated Washington County. The area includes a subsection that takes in the Nimbus and Cascade avenue areas on the west side of Highway 217.
"This is the project's major push for community engagement," Scott said of the center's online open house. "We initially had more opportunities planned, but the COVID-19 pandemic has scaled back those in-person activities. We are hosting multilingual focus groups in an effort to hear from the diverse Metzger neighborhood."
Past community engagement for the regional center has included in-depth interviews with residents in the area that were conducted not only in English, but in Spanish and Swahili as well.
Those interviews showed that while residents in the Metzger and Washington Square areas like where they live, they want to see safer spaces to walk and bike, more greenspaces, and more affordable or family housing options.
Plans at the Washington Square Mall include the eventual razing of the Sears store, which could be replaced by a variety of possible venues such as a hotel, cinema, housing, grocery store and office space. However, developers would need to apply for a more detailed development plans to move to the next phase and the city hasn't received any permit requests from developers since initial approvals were granted in July 2020, Scott said.
The Macerich Co., a real estate investment trust based in California, owns the 105-acre Washington Square Mall.
The regional center's proposed vision also includes:
• Emphasizing high-density, mixed use development.
• Supporting a new range of housing options along with providing opportunities for new businesses to use existing vacant buildings since tall, mixed-use buildings aren't likely to be built there anytime soon.
• Making it safer for pedestrians and cyclists to get where they need to go in the area.
• Focusing on near-term and financially achievable outcomes that will help the area function better.
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