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Office building could rise above Pacific Highway as tallest building in downtown

COURTESY - An artist's rendering shows a proposed six-story building in downtown Tigard, which city official Sean Farrelly says represents 'a great opportunity for Tigard to grow up and not grow out.'Main Street is about to get a major new addition.

Tigard city planners are currently designing a new six-story multi-use office building which is slated to be built on Southwest Main Street, across from Max’s Fanno Creek Brew Pub.

Known as the Saxony Project, the building at 12533 S.W. Main St. would be torn down and rebuilt as a large scale office building with retail space on the bottom floor.

“It’s a really prominent location,” said Sean Farrelly, redevelopment project manager for downtown. “There is a lot of opportunity there and a lot of challenges.”

Tigard purchased the building last year in order to redevelop it. If the building is built at the full six stories, as planned, it would dwarf other buildings in the area.

“There are taller buildings in the (Tigard) Triangle, and of course, Lincoln Tower,” Farrelly said. “But it would be the tallest in downtown, for sure.”

The development would also widen sidewalks in the area to turn the area into a public gathering space, which would extend across the street.

The city has talked for years about building some sort of public plaza in downtown, but pulled back on those plans after it was unable to find a property owner willing to sell.

“I still think that the larger plaza will happen sometime,” Farrelly said. “But we came to the realization that if you build a really big plaza and don’t have a lot of activity, nobody wants to see an empty plaza. I think in 10 years or so, the plaza could be permanently programmed and have enough businesses and residents that it could be bustling.”

Current plans call for a restaurant incubator to take up the bottom floor of the Saxony project.

“We’re thinking about micro restaurants, using a shared kitchen, or maybe some small food businesses that are getting started. It’s just an idea right now,” Farrelly said. “There’s interest in it, and we’re refining the business plan to see what that would look like.”

The other stories could be either office space, or possibly residential housing.

Just when the building will be constructed, however, is still in the air.

“We’ve moving along,” Farrelly said. “But it’s still a little early.”

The city will need to clean up some contamination left on the site. Several downtown businesses are listed as “brownfield” lots — properties where contamination from previous tenants seeped into the ground, such as gasoline from old gas stations.

That cleanup will take some time, Farrelly said.

“We could potentially see demolition of the site in the fall or winter, and then add time for cleanup,” Farrelly said. “We could see construction by fall 2017. That’s the most optimistic timeline.”

Downtown not a 'proven market' yet

The Saxony project is the second piece of new development the downtown will see in recent years. The city is currently building a large apartment complex and retail shopping development on Southwest Burnham Street and Ash Avenue.

In the past, the city has focused on smaller scale construction projects, such as façade improvements for local businesses, but switched gears last year with the re-construction of Southwest Main Street’s roadway.

“I think we want to do both (big projects and small projects),” Farrelly said. “There are lots of buildings in downtown that are valuable, well used and well taken care of. We want to focus on sites where there are opportunities.”

The city is also planning a third large-scale construction project for downtown, which would redesign the Tigard Transit Center. The plan is still years away from fruition.

Farrelly said that city involvement is necessary in order to help get downtown Tigard noticed by developers.

“Right now, downtown is not a proven market,” Farrelly said. “We’re hoping that after a few more projects, the market will take over on its own.”

The city set its sights on downtown Tigard years ago and hasn’t looked away. Voters formed an urban renewal district in 2001 to help invigorate the long struggling downtown core, but much of that work stalled during the recession.

Getting downtown right is important, Farrelly said, because people need a place where they can congregate as a community.

“It’s a great opportunity for Tigard to grow up and not grow out,” Farrelly said. “People keep moving to the Portland region and we’d like to capture some of that growth. Downtown is a good place to focus on so we can leave the single family neighborhoods as they are. Frankly, more people are interested in living in more urban environments. That type of lifestyle is attractive and Tigard needs to have a part of the city that is like that.”

By Geoff Pursinger
Assistant Editor
The Times, serving Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood
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