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Beaverton Takes A Page out of PDX’s Playbook with its Urban Renewal Program

While being rich in history, Downtown Beaverton has been at a deficit in regards to liveliness, a key area that the City is taking aim at with their Urban Renewal Project. Instead of reinventing the wheel, it appears that Beaverton has taken a page out of Portland’s playbook, attempting to create a framework that builds around a “downtown urban feel.” So what exactly does that look like?

According to the City of Beaverton, a “downtown urban feel” includes high-rise offices, dense affordable housing with ground floor retail, and transit oriented development.The Urban Renewal Project’s Framework revolves around an active transportation loop, and “gateways” to “core character areas.” The City of Beaverton plans on placing the “gateways” at selected key intersections to signal one’s arrival into downtown Beaverton. “Gateways” may be designed as public art, streetscape improvements, emphasized building elements, or perhaps something more out of the box.

Even though downtown Beaverton’s urban design framework was approved as recently as October 2018, revamping Beaverton’s “core character areas” has been in the works for years, as evidenced with the construction of the Round back in 2003 and the more recent BG Food Cartel, which has seen a good amount of success. Before the downtown Beaverton area can progress in development, it must first go through the phase it is currently in with the City Council, which is Phase 2. Phase 2 consists of two parts (how ironic!): Creating conceptual street designs and new development regulations for downtime. Conceptual street design shall be focused on key identified streets connecting the different areas of downtown while making them pedestrian and bicycle friendly, while new development regulations will focus on a new section of development code regulating land uses and building intensity, as well as design rules. This code and subsequent codes will be created to fit the different character areas of downtown that require their own sets of development rules to aid in the vibrancy piece of the framework. Both the conceptual steet designs and the new development rules are to be presented in Spring 2019.

When I think of downtown Beaverton currently, I wonder whether a refresh will be enough to restore the activity to the area. To be frank, what currently is of interest over by Broadway? Beaverton Bakery shut its doors in the fall. There is the Winter Market and the Summer Farmer’s Market nearby the library and the park, but those are one day a week events. Even the Broadway saloon doesn’t generate as much traffic. What retailers or businesses do you think would generate more foot traffic in the downtown Beaverton area? In your opinion, how will the changes in transportation effect the area’s traffic? What do you think about Portland’s urban jungle making its way into Beaverton, a welcome effort, or, you can keep your tall buildings give me suburbia?

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