City to host event to discuss economic feasibility of plan to revitalize Town Center commercial area

SUBMITTED PHOTO - The City of Wilsonville continues its push to develop a plan for Town Center. It will hold an event discussing development feasibility Oct. 11 at Regal Cinemas.According to an analysis of business redevelopment in Town Center, a dense and multifaceted area is likely to materialize incrementally rather than all at once.

The analysis indicated that purchasing a property in Town Center and redeveloping the building so that it could include dense development with more mixed uses might not be cost effective for developers in the short term. But officials believe that once public infrastructure improvements are implemented and the area matures, such investments will be viable.

"To achieve a very aspirational vision, it takes time. It really will take some initial steps before some of those bigger investments are seen," Wilsonville Planning Manager Miranda Bateschell said.

The City of Wilsonville will unveil the results of its development feasibility analysis, provide an update of the draft plan and conduct a panel discussion with various experts from 4-5:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at Regal Cinemas. The analysis is part of Wilsonville's push to update its Town Center Plan for the first time since 1978.

The City is considering the implementation of a "Main Street" effect, lined with mixed uses — businesses of varied types combined with housing — and attractive businesses, a bolstered bike and pedestrian network and added green spaces for Town Center. The City plans to post the study's results at some point prior to the event at in addition to sharing it that night.

Wilsonville conducted the feasibility analysis to determine which types of development would be viable in Town Center in the near term. The City analyzed the costs of acquiring land, tearing down an existing building, constructing a new building and other expenditures and the projected revenue property owners could garner from rents.

Bateschell said, due to the costs of redevelopment and rents that likely wouldn't make up the cost, such buildings will likely undergo simpler storefront improvements instead of full-scale redevelopments in the near term. The study also found that most of the existing buildings in Town Center are already occupied.

However, Wilsonville Economic Development Manager Jordan Vance said that development of vacant parcels could happen sooner.

"It's too costly (right now) for someone to come in, acquire land and develop those sites," Bateschell said. "Denser development types are likely going to happen as time goes on and more investments are made in Town Center."

Vance added: "Over time as rents do rise, that will set the stage for redevelopment. As rents increase and vacant areas develop, that new development coupled with new amenities will create a more vibrant area."

Plus, Bateschell said denser development types would likely require structured parking, which is costly to develop. Instead, the City could lessen parking requirements, utilize shared parking and make parking more evenly distributed throughout Town Center.

"Currently we have more parking than is utilized on a regular basis," Bateschell said. "A lot of folks want parking more consolidated and designed differently."

The study also found that while housing has kept up with rising construction costs, of-fice and retail rents have declined.

Vance and Bateschell stress that the city does not want to expel existing businesses and will consider programs that could provide financial incentives for businesses to invest in storefront improvements and adjust to changes.

"Part of our goal is to retain and grow our existing businesses in town. We'll be working to develop programs to achieve that," Vance said.

The expert panel will feature Fred Bruning of CenterCal Properties, Lloyd Purdy of Greater Portland Inc. and Brian Vanneman of Leland Consulting. Vance said Vanneman will provide insight on market conditions in Wilsonville and the region, Purdy will discuss public and private partnerships for Main Street programs and Bruning has experience with redevelopments throughout the region.

"The event is a good opportunity for everyone in the community, residents, small businesses to hear updates and then weigh in on economic development and what programs would look like in the future," Vance said.

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