Metro to host upcoming meetings to narrow down sites, allowing River Terrace 2.0 into the urban growth boundary faster

PMG DRONE PHOTO: ALVARO FONTAN  - A drone captured the rapidly changing landscape of River Terrace, west of Bull Mountain, in 2021. Metro will soon narrow down potential sites for a first-of-its kind "land swap," which would allow the city of Tigard to expedite and expand the development of River Terrace, the rapidly expanding subdivision on the northern most part of the city.

The proposal would allow a novel plan to allow River Terrace 2.0 to come into the urban growth boundary faster than normal, something that would allow for construction of a variety of different types of housing sooner than normal.

In exchange, the regional government is looking for another large parcel of land, originally scheduled to come into the UGB sooner, to be delayed.

At the moment, the most talked-about parcel to fit the bill is in the Damascus area.

"The (Metro) Council wants to consider using this UGB exchange because Tigard appears ready to provide the governance and public investments needed to get housing built in the River Terrace 2.0 urban reserve area," Ted Reid, principal regional planner for Metro, wrote in an email. "For the exchange, we are focused on identifying other areas that have been in the UGB for some time, but have not demonstrated readiness to develop."

What Metro likes about the Tigard parcel are Tigard's plans to include so-called "missing middle" housing in River Terrace 2.0. That housing includes such units as cottages, townhouses, duplexes and other forms of housing that typically offer more living space than a typical unit in a large apartment complex.

Since such housing is smaller and less expensive than full-size, standalone houses, it also attracts a more diverse group of buyers than standard residential homes.

Tigard planners previously have proposed a commercial area aligned along a main street as part of the future development.

Tigard's proposal involves two areas of property, making up about 500 total acres, separated on either side of Southwest Roy Rogers Road.

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF TIGARD - Here is a look at River Terrace 2.0. Areas in purple are areas that are proposed for employment lands and main streets.  "They are essentially wrapped around the west and south sides of River Terrace, which is an area of UGB expansion that we did 10 years ago or so and that was a complete success. River Terrace, the first one, is almost completely built out at this point," Tom McGuire, Tigard's assistant community development director, said about the possible swap during a July 20 forum on the topic sponsored by the Westside Economic Alliance.

Tigard's request to bring land into the UGB falls outside Metro's comprehensive assessment of regional land, which is conducted every six years.

While a recent meeting with the Damascus Community Planning Organization didn't display outright opposition to the UGB exchange — with some property owners saying they wouldn't mind having properties removed from the current UGB — there was general concern about growth and change in that area, according to Metro officials.

Still, Damascus isn't the only area Metro is looking at when it comes to an UGB exchange.

"Those preliminary areas can be found in all three counties, not just the former Damascus," Reid wrote. "We will be working to narrow things down in the coming weeks and will describe a smaller set of options in a chief operating officer recommendation that we expect to release next month."

Next steps include a discussion whittling down the location of those potential sites at both a Sept. 21 Metro Technical Advisory Committee meeting and at a Metro Policy Advisory Committee set for Sept. 28.

"Taking into account various touchpoints with our council and the above advisory committees as well as public notice timelines, we're tentatively looking at a council decision in early 2023," said Reid.

Tigard's McGuire has said if everything is approved by Metro, City Hall would start on the community process and work with property owners over the next two years, with actual development of the area set about four years out.

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