Construction on the long-awaited plaza, which features an interactive splash pad/water feature, will begin soon.

COURTESY PHOTO: RAY PITZ - The first phase of Universal Plaza will include an interactive water feature and splash pad.Tigard will host a groundbreaking ceremony for a long-anticipated signature project that has been on city drawing books for years: Universal Plaza.

The event is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at 9100 S.W. Burnham St. in downtown Tigard.

"This first phase that we're building now will be done by the end of the year," said Kenny Asher, Tigard's community development director. "Basically, it's turning the ground into a plaza. It's all the paving and planting. It includes the splash pad and the water feature that'll be in the center of the site."'

The projected cost for the first phase is $5.6 million. The money comes from Tigard's urban renewal fund as well as parks system development charges, which developers pay to maintain Tigard's parks and recreation system.

Universal Plaza will also include a four-stall public restroom, as well as porch swings and a boardwalk connection to the Fanno Creek Trail. In addition, there will be room for food carts as well as space to host Tigard Farmers Market, concerts, art festivals and art shows, said Asher.

One of the focal points of the plaza will be the interactive splash pad and water feature.

"It'll be jets that kids can play in. It'll be sort of a little wading pool that people can kind of walk through," Asher said, adding it will be made up of aquamarine and green stone. The feature will be illuminated at night.

Not included in the first phase is a massive architectural canopy and a community picnic table that are also planned for Universal Plaza. Plans also call for built-in seating along the water feature and throughout the lawn. That work is all part of the second phase of construction, which has yet to be fully funded, Asher said.

"We're working on fundraising for phase 2," said Asher, adding that will be a couple of years out.

RIOS, a Los Angeles-based firm, is the lead designer of the project, with Fluidity Design Consultants of Portland designing the splashpad. The boardwalk was designed by Alta Planning + Design.

Over the last few years, Tigard has hosted several temporary art installations at what will be the site of Universal Plaza, highlighting portions of the 1.8-acre piece of property, which was the former site of the Ferguson Plumbing building.

Temporary installations have included a 34,000-square-foot ground mural, global lights, musician benches, illuminated haikus, and a large fabric-over-scaffolding piece of artwork.

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