Twenty years ago, Sandy's population sat at just around 5,000. Now, the community edges toward 12,000 people, riding a wave of residential development.
According to Sandy City Planner Kelly O'Neill, 2019 was one of the biggest years for new residential development applications. As of December, the city had received applications for 117 shovel-ready lots for single-family houses and duplexes; 67 tentatively platted lots for single-family houses; and about 275 conceptually planned lots for single-family houses.
In terms of rentals, the city has approved 69 apartment units on Ruben Lane, which are shovel-ready, and about 330 proposed units are awaiting land-use approval.
Among the residential developments popping up, there are more than a dozen subdivisions in the works, including some like the tentative development of Bailey Meadows in South Sandy, which comprises about 100 homes.
Already selling homes and hosting open house events is Rosemont Development and partners at Harcourts Real Estate Network. The long-time Pacific Northwest firm has built a new 43-unit subdivision on Olsen and Jewelberry, dubbed Sandy Woods.
"I think Sandy is just a very vibrant little town, and I'm sure people want to keep it that way, but it's a desirable place to be," said Larry Strutz, principal broker for Harcourts Real Estate Network Group.
Homes at Sandy Woods are priced to match the average new home being offered in Sandy — between $400,000 and $450,000.
"What we're trying to do is provide quality homes in Sandy," Strutz said. "We're trying to build a community. So far, it's interesting the people who are buying. They're good people, fun people, and it's going to be a good community."
For Mac Even of Even Better Homes, the allure of helping develop Sandy is multifaceted.
"I think Sandy still has a small-town feel, but it's relatively close to the Metro area and Portland," he said of why the town has become a destination for residents and developers alike. "Sandy has just turned into a great community (and) its own completely self-sufficient city, rather than just a stop on the way to Mount Hood. I think it's a lifestyle choice to live here. It's an extra 15-20 minutes on their commute, but when they're home they still get that relatively small-town feel."
He added that being outside the Metro area, Sandy has "room to govern itself and (that) gives the citizens a bigger voice and more of a say."
Even is working on three developments at the moment, including the Mountain View Ridge 33-lot subdivision, the 32-lot Jacoby Heights subdivision and a third project, which is still in preliminary planning. The homes proposed in these subdivisions are estimated to be mid-level income homes, around the $425,000-$475,000 range.
Even has spent much of the past five years developing properties in Gresham, but saw potential in Sandy about a year and a half ago.
"I had an opportunity to do a good project out here, so I grabbed it," Even said. "I've developed everywhere from St. Helens to Tigard to Bend. I've worked in towns of all different sizes. Sandy has a lot of growth potential."
As a developer, Even said he understands the city's recent decision to increase system development charges (SDCs) for wastewater connections, and doesn't see it slowing down development, at least not for him.
"I do understand the need for it," he explained. "Sandy's got some serious issues with its sewer system. It makes costs go up, obviously. But it won't stop me from developing out here."
He added that thus far, "city staff is pretty good to work with."
Even is involved with the tree committee created by the city to explore and make suggested revisions to the tree code. As a developer, he said it's his duty to the city he's working in to help guide growth.
"What I do impacts the community and what the city and community do impact me, so I try to come in and create a good dialogue between the two," Even said. "I want my homes and developments to be positive additions to the city."
Even also sees the growth in Sandy as positive, arguing the expansion will lead to a bigger tax base.
"I think Sandy's only going to continue to grow," Even said. "Inevitably, growth is going to happen, and when you have growth, it spurs business possibilities that create economic possibilities."
This article is part one of a series on the effects of residential growth on Sandy. Follow and/or subscribe to read more on this topic.
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