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In other news, the city approves ordinances related to industrial development.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The city of Wilsonville creates tax incentive program for Town Center commercial district, as well as the Villebois Village Center.

Following a year spent ironing out the details, the city of Wilsonville has approved its new tax incentive program to spur commercial development in the Villebois Village Center and Town Center commercial area.

The new program, which was approved during the May 2 City Council meeting, will provide partial property tax exemptions for developers who construct mixed-use buildings with ground-floor commercial space and above-ground housing in certain segments of these districts. The program will be used as part of the city's goals to revitalize Town Center and usher in development on long-underutilized land in the central commercial area of Villebois (a proposal for that development, including three buildings, was recently approved).

Commercial development in Villebois has proven challenging over the last decade because of the little foot traffic the center receives from residents outside of the residential community, and the city is hoping to make Town Center more walkable and attractive. The tax incentive program being reintroduced led to the Villebois development proposal.

Among the stipulations, the maximum property tax abatement is 80% and the tax incentives last for 10 years. Further, the developer must designate 50% of the ground floor of the space for non-residential use, which could be either commercial establishments or "community-serving space that provides access and benefits to the broader community beyond building residents and their guests," according to the staff report.

Councilor Joann Linville asked staff why businesses near the intersection of Wilsonville Road and Town Center Loop West were not included in the Town Center tax incentive zone.

"My concern is if the owners of those buildings wanted to upgrade those to vertical housing and put their business on the bottom floor and to build up, there is no incentive for them to do that because they are excluded from this proposal," she said.

Kimberly Rybold, a senior planner, said businesses' relation to the future Main Street (the hub of the Town Center redevelopment) and redevelopment potential were some of the primary considerations for which areas to include in the tax incentive zone. She added that areas with ample land amenable to transformation, such as the large parking lots in Town Center, are most well-suited.

"If you apply the incentive everywhere equally, you're going to dilute the effect and could have financial impacts we're not necessarily looking to have. We want to concentrate it in the areas of most importance," she said.

Councilor Charlotte Lehan brought up the possible equity issues related to access for those with disabilities at these new mixed use buildings. Rybold clarified that the redeveloped buildings likely will be four to five stories. According to city code, buildings above three stories must have elevators.

The program will have an effect on the revenue for taxing jurisdictions, such as Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue and Clackamas Community College, and Wilsonville Economic Development Manager Matt Lorenzen said none of the jurisdictions expressed objection to the proposal. The city also recently started a task force to deal with urban renewal in town, and Lorenzen said other kinds of incentives could be added to these areas depending on what the city determines. The city has a history of aggressively using urban renewal — which takes the taxes associated with increases in property values and uses it for public improvement projects — to great effect in terms of boosting property values.

"A new urban renewal plan in Town Center could have additional incentives. There are many ways jurisdictions use tax increment finance to catalyze redevelopment," he said.

The council passed the resolution 4-0 (Councilor Ben West was absent).

Coffee Creek development moves forward

The council also approved zoning and map amendment changes for one of the first development proposals in the Coffee Creek Industrial Area. The site is 8.17 acres in the northern section of the industrial area near Southwest Garden Acres Road and Southwest Grahams Ferry Road.

The Black Creek Group industrial project is slated to be a "48,279-square-foot speculative warehouse/manufacturing facility" that "contains accessory office space and is designed to accommodate a single tenant or two tenants," according to the staff report.

The site will still require Development Review Board approval. Unlike developments in other areas of town, those in Coffee Creek are approved by City Council first so as to trigger the appeal period more quickly and thus expedite development processes. The city initiated this policy to make the area, which has been slow in its growth, more attractive to the development community.

Lee Leighton, a planner with Mackenzie in Portland, noted the extensive planning that led to this point, including the adoption of the master plan for Coffee Creek in 2007.

"Now is 2022 and we're annexing property and starting to build things and bring jobs to Wilsonville. I find that very exciting that all of the planning work that the region and Wilsonville have been doing is being realized with projects like this one," he said.

City has money left over from stump-grinding program

Fewer applicants than expected applied to take advantage of the city's Stump Grinding Community Enhancement Program, which was created after the 2021 ice storm that decimated the local tree population.

The city ended up receiving 56 applications, resulting in 48 stumps being ground, according to Parks Supervisor Dustin Schull. So, whereas $30,000 was allocated for this program through Metro Community Enhancement grant funding, only around $13,000 was spent. The city said that extra money will go back into the program to fund future projects.

"We were very surprised to see the number come in as low as we did. We had expected a large turnout. We did the best we could with what we had, certainly," Shull said.


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