Fry's redevelopment could provide first look at Town Center makeover
For many months, locals speculated about whether the Fry's Electronics location in Town Center was on the verge of closure. After those rumors proved prescient in February, the question of what will replace it may now be of equal interest.
The Wilsonville government says it has fielded preliminary inquiries about the large facility, but no serious proposals have been brought forth. What is clear, however, is the location will eventually undergo a serious makeover.
Due to the passage of the Town Center Plan in 2019, the Fry's center that exceeds 100,000 square feet and includes over 800 parking spaces would come nowhere close to meeting the standards established in the plan, which places an emphasis on smaller, mixed-use facilities complimented by bicycle and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.
Planning Director Miranda Bateschell said any Fry's redevelopment could be a significant initial step toward realizing the plan's vision. Along with the Fry's location, she noted only one other spot that is currently available for redevelopment within the plan's purview: a parcel next to City Hall.
"Any development project in Town Center would be an important step in helping to transform Town Center into a more connected, vibrant place," Bateschell wrote via email following a phone conversation. "Given the size of the Fry's site there is a great opportunity for new street connections and a more pedestrian-oriented scale of development. Redevelopment of the site will also provide a critical multimodal connection between the future I-5 Bike/Ped Bridge and Town Center Park."
In the plan, the Fry's location will be located almost entirely in the commercial mixed-use zone which would allow multi-family housing, commercial recreational uses with outdoor facilities, a mix of uses including retail and office space, and drive-thru facilities. A mixed-use building could exceed 30,000 square feet but a single-use retail development could not. Other permitted uses allowed throughout Town Center include open space, parks and playgrounds, child care facilities and food services, among others.
Another venue for transformation is the large parking lot that was often mostly empty when Fry's was open. Bateschell said that much of that could be transformed into transportation infrastructure and some of it could also be turned into developed buildings.
"That sea of parking, moving away from that isn't just to move away from that, it's not to move away from parking in general; it's to move (toward) a design that's people focused and easier to navigate for all modes," Bateschell said, adding that parking both above and below ground could be possible depending on the development and that one parking space is required per residential unit. Retail or office parking varies depending on square footage.
She also said the plan calls for buildings with street frontage and that more streets will be added to Town Center including near Fry's.
"We don't have many streets within the Town Center. Our connectivity standards will increase the internal local serving street network," Bateschell said.
The former Fry's location is also near the proposed plaza at the future entrance of an I-5 Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge. Bateschell said there will be a local street connected to the plaza and she expected this dynamic to incentivize development of amenities like coffee shops, food and retail.
"These types of infrastructure projects are often a great incentive for the private sector," she said.
However, Bateschell said she did not know when Fry's redevelopment would take place or if that would happen before or after significant public improvements in Town Center are underway.
"I don't think you have to have the infrastructure (and) that plaza built in order for the private sector to develop. I think knowing the city has acquired the property, knowing we're in design work, knowing we are actively looking at that is sufficient," she said.
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