Attendees of the Town Center Showcase event at Wilsonville City Hall on Wednesday, March 13, universally agreed on two points: The current Town Center is unappealing and the City's plan to re-create the area is a positive step toward making it a desirable destination.
The showcase took place before the Wilsonville Planning Commission voted Wednesday to recommend the Town Center Plan, which sets the blueprint for how the City plans to develop the area.
The Wilsonville City Council will consider whether to pass the plan at a later date. The proposal calls for the addition of a Main Street filled with housing, office and small retail space, along with the addition of bicycle paths, green spaces and gathering spots.
Currently, many people, including attendees Kate Greenfield, Debbie Gorham and Dick and Delora Copple often prefer driving to Tualatin to visit Bridgeport Village in Tigard rather than shop in Town Center or other areas in Wilsonville.
"I'd always go to Bridgeport Village instead of anywhere in Wilsonville — until and unless it changes — because it's not that far away from where I live here," Gorham said.
Among their gripes, the Wilsonville residents the Spokesman spoke with generally said the area has too much parking, is bereft of walking and biking infrastructure, and that there aren't enough appealing shops or natural beauty.
"It is currently very car-focused and (has) a lot of parking lots," Wilsonville resident Terri Wortman said. "The whole loop is not at all bike friendly or pedestrian friendly. It's not a very attractive place to shop or visit."
Greenfield, though, is excited about the potential implementation of a mixed-use area that could attract young professionals and create a more bustling atmosphere.
In the plan, the City projects there will be 1,680 residential units, 720,000 square feet of office space, and a near doubling of the area's commercial square footage when the center is built out. The plan also calls for requiring less parking, redeveloping underused parking areas, and considering strategies for eventually adding structured parking.
"You have an inhabited place ... good restaurant selection, you have a natural center for the town," Greenfield said. "I think the vision of it is really good. It will really be the center of Wilsonville."
Resident Bob Applegate doesn't currently frequent Town Center much, but would be interested in an attractive area to stroll through.
"I think I like the idea of there being more pedestrian-friendly development that you could actually walk around the Town Center area as opposed to dodging cars," he said. "I like the idea that there will be some street level activities, restaurants, bistros."
The Town Center Plan is slated to progress in three stages, with peripheral development and the Main Street road being completed within 10 years, for mixed-use development to sprout up in 10 to 20 years and for the area to be completed in 40 years. Wortman will be interested to see the City's level of success in implementing its ambitious vision.
"It's (the plan) very impressive," Wortman said. "It's just they're not starting from a blank slate, so it will be interesting to see how it develops over a 10-20 year horizon."
Gorham is most excited about the greenery outlined in the plan, which calls for a series of linear parks, community gardens and trails within Town Center.
"Plants just uplift your spirit so much, and the dearth of that in Town Center is sad," Gorham said. "Anything that causes it to develop so that there are more places for people to walk and take in plant life. ... That's exciting to me to have more bike accessibility and fewer broken up, ugly parking areas."
The Town Center Plan took years to develop and the City conducted many community events for residents to share their vision. Greenfield was appreciative that the City listened to citizens' perspec-
"I've been involved in quite a few of the public events, and they draw a lot of people out," she said. "I think they've done a really marvelous job for the community to weigh in and say, 'I recommended that' or 'That's something I didn't want.'"
Ideally, the Copples would like to see Town Center mirror their former home: Ashland — where art, boutique shops and pleasant walking spaces are prevalent.
"Of course, they have the tourists that come and we don't have that yet, so I think it (the Town Center Plan) will make a difference," Delora said.
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