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While lenders get tight as economy falls into recession projects already underway continue at a steady clip.

COURTESY PHOTO: WASHINGTON COUNTY LAND USE & TRANSPORTATION - Officially opened in January 2018 (shown in this file photo), the west side of the 124th Avenue extension contains land in Sherwoods Tonquin Employment Area.While some Washington County cities are seeing slight downturns in construction during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sherwood hasn't seen a slowdown at all. Projects already in the works are continuing while new applications continue to be submitted, according to Julia Hajduk, Sherwood's community development director.

"According to my staff, we are busier than we were last year," said Hajduk. "We are seeing new residential development in the Brookman area (at the southern tip of the city) as well as some residential interest in Southeast Sherwood."

In addition, Hajduk said there is significant interest in the Tonquin Employment Area, a 40-acre site on the south side of the 124th Avenue extension on between Tualatin-Sherwood Road and Tonquin Road.

Hajduk said the only delay in new construction comes from a business planning to locate in Sherwood, which provides parts for ships. She said they have asked for a delay to be issued their building and engineering parts until the cruise ship industry gets on firmer ground. The cruise line industry has ground to a halt in the wake of coronavirus.

At the same time, city planners in Beaverton, Tigard and Tualatin are seeing some downturn in construction during COVID-19, but some projects already in the works are moving ahead at a steady clip.

Still, officials in those cities are not quite sure if the slowdowns are related specifically to the fallouts caused because of coronavirus or are due to other factors.

"I can't say it is all related to the COVID-19 virus, as the general timing of when projects are ready to start can have a large impact on activity," Tigard building official Mark VanDomelen told the Gazette. "We have several large projects that are finishing up the land use process and will be issued soon."

As far as new construction is concerned, what the banks are willing — and not willing — to do is impacting construction as well.

"What we're hearing from our customers is that for new projects, most lenders are not making commitments at this point," said Cheryl Twete, Beaverton's community development director. "And that might change next week. That might change in a month or two, but there's so much uncertainty in the world right now. Things are just slowing down."

Tualatin has experienced a slight decrease in the number of permit applications received in March, April and May, compared to the previous year.

"There have been scheduled changes overall for most projects, but for the most part, projects are moving along steadily," said Aquilla Hurd-Ravich, Tualatin's community development director. "As it commonly is, weather may be a bigger factor than the pandemic at this time."

One major project in Tualatin that experienced a setback in mid-June is Portland General Electric's construction of a massive operations facility at Southwest Tualatin-Sherwood Road and 124th Avenue, just east of Sherwood city limits. The 108,000-square-foot center, being built on 43 acres of property, will eventually house up to 350 employees and is being constructed to withstand manmade and natural disasters.

Two construction workers at the PGE building site were injured June 10 in a fall. PGE and general contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis announced they were temporarily halting work after the incident.

"PGE is working closely with the general contractor to investigate what happened, with the focus today on supporting the injured workers, their families, and co-workers while ensuring the site is safe going forward," PGE spokesperson Steve Corson said in a June 10 statement.

More information was not available as of the Gazette's press deadline.

There is ongoing construction in two adjacent neighborhoods north of Sherwood: South Cooper Mountain in Beaverton and River Terrace in Tigard, burgeoning subdivisions that surround Mountainside High School on both sides of Southwest Scholls Ferry Road.

VanDomelen said while the city has seen a slowdown in detached single-family housing, things have been picking up in the River Terrace subdivision, as well as other, smaller "infill" housing projects.

In addition, the Tigard-Tualatin School District is still working on the renovation of Tigard High School, having just finished remodeling Templeton Elementary School, and the construction of a new Twality Middle School to replace the old school building. Those projects are funded by a bond issue approved by voters in 2016.


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