Wilsonville's growth slowdown continues, PSU report says
For the second consecutive year, Wilsonville's population increased by a paltry amount in comparison to a boom period in the 2010s.
Portland State University, which conducts yearly population estimates, projected Wilsonville's population to be 25,915, up 1.1% from the city's 2019 projection of 25,635. The city's 1.5% increase from 2018 to 2019 was an eight-year low, according to PSU data, and 2020 marks a new low since 2011. The city had an average annual growth rate of around 3% over a 10-year period between 2009 and 2019, Planning Director Miranda Bateschell told the Spokesman in 2019.
Population numbers generally fall in line with the rate of residential construction, according to city Community Development Director Chris Neamtzu. The Wilsonville government granted 113 residential permits during the 2019-20 fiscal year and 180 permits the previous fiscal year. By comparison, the city issued 465 in 2013.
Neamtzu attributed the slowdown to the near completion of the Villebois community, and the fact that available homes in the only other community that has room for growth, Frog Pond West, are relatively large and expensive, meaning there aren't as many prospective buyers.
"It's playing out the way it was expected. The velocity is nowhere near what it was with the Villebois project. It's a whole different game out in Frog Pond," Neamtzu said.
Neamtzu added that he expects Wilsonville's population to continue to grow at a slower pace in the coming years. However, he said an uptick could occur when the Frog Pond East and South neighborhoods are ready for development. Potential residential infill in the Town Center commercial area, which the city wants to see redeveloped, could also add to the growth rate, he added. These projects are years away from fruition.
The Metro regional government projected in 2016 that Wilsonville's population would be 27,000 by 2040, but the city had consistently exceeded Metro's projected growth rate. Neamtzu said the recent projections are more in line with Metro's estimate but that Wilsonville would still exceed Metro's estimate.
"To suggest we're going to grow by 2,000 more people in the next 20 years I think is not realistic," he said.
However, Neamtzu didn't believe the legislation that was designed to encourage the development of middle housing and barred exclusive single-family neighborhoods would impact Wilsonville's population growth much.
"Our housing stock is new and in good shape. I don't see a considerable amount of impact to existing neighborhoods," he said. "How it affects Frog Pond East and South, that remains to be seen and what changes to the concept plan need to be made, those are pretty deep questions."
Wilsonville's population is just 60 residents short of school district counterpart West Linn and is the 21st highest in the state. To view the population estimates, visit https://www.pdx.edu/population-research/population-estimate-reports.
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