Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Four Phases for Hillsdale

Issue #35 of the Hillsdale News, which I sent to 430 on-line subscribers this morning, reports on the results of three Town Center planning sessions held this fall.

I didn't have room to show all the critical phases of the strategic plan that SERA Architects, the planning consultants, developed for the crucial Sunset Triangle. I thought I'd share most of them with you here.

Phase 1 is above left. The black square in the middle is the Hillsdale Branch Library. The initial phase calls for the extension of Dewitt Park (shown in green) down to Sunset Boulevard and the extension of Dewitt Street to the west/southwest. Mixed-use buildings (brown) would be on either side of the street extension.

Phase 2 (below right) defines a hybrid street/walk going from the mid-block crossing on SW Capitol Highway to meet the new street at the point indicated by the yellow circle. Note that the small yellow areas at the intersections indicate plazas.

Also, note phase 2's reorientation of the buildings to accommodate the intersection in the circle. The building now occupied by Edward Jones and Kuman Learning Center would be removed to open the passage for the new street.

Some folks who attended this fall's meetings questioned the need for this street and worried that it might remove needed parking. The consultants believe that new parking can be provided under some of the new commercial buildings.

The phase also calls for a new northern extension of Dewitt Street to cut through what is now a low-density residential part of the Triangle. As proposed, the new street would be narrow and "green." It would encourage pedestrians and discourage through-traffic. The rendering to the left shows a cross section with swales, and traffic-calming trees that intrude on the right-of-way.

The fully completed extension of Dewitt would link with a street that is already platted for a recently subdivided property on SW 18th Drive. The extension would open the backs of the deep lots facing on 18th Drive and Sunset Boulevard to further subdivision.

I've omitted the rendering for phase 3. It looks at the intersection of Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, Capitol Highway, Bertha Court and 18th Drive. Its features have largely been addressed by the recently completed crosswalk at the intersection. The new crosswalk stops all vehicular traffic so that pedestrians can cross safely.

Phase 4 shows a radical reconfiguration of commercial real estate that would affect the Hillsdale Brew Pub, Casa Colima, the Union 76 station and the shops between the liquor store and the Bank of America. Such a change would require more cooperation between commercial property owners than we have seen in the past.

Notably, the gas station vanishes because it is assumed that by the time we reach this phase, we will no longer rely on gas-driven vehicles. We will be walking, taking buses or driving electric cars.

Also, the Hillsdale Shopping Center to the south is depicted in two "staple" shapes, orienting more to Capitol Highway.

How much of this will be accomplished, or even desired, in the next decade or two is impossible to predict. The idea is to proceed phase by phase and to keep talking about where we are headed and where we want to go.

Experience teaches that surprising and innovative new phases change old ones. Indeed, we are entering a phase that was unanticipated when the Town Center strategic planning began earlier this fall. Call it the "Deep Recession" phase; it has put all the phases discussed here on hold.

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Blogger OutrageousJ said...

As a former Hillsdale resident, those plans make me pretty excited - they all would be a dramatic improvement to the area.

How likely are those to happen? And whose approval would be needed?

7:52 PM  
Blogger Rick Seifert said...

t's hard to say how likely any of this is. Several of us are involved in the Hillsdale Working Group, which meets monthly with planners from the City in an effort to update, guide and implement parts of the Town Center plan.

An updated plan no doubt be presented to the City Council inthe next year or two.

My guess is that our first on-the-ground effort will be to try to get the parks bureau to extend the park. We also want to create raised bicycle lanes on Capitol Highway and experiment with non-rush-hour on-street parking.

After that,the Sunset Triangle zoning needs to be changed to mixed commercial/residential use in the transitional area. Also, the question about the covenants and restrictions on zoning needs to be resolved so that there are no clouds over deeds.

Then private investors need to step up to buy the parcels where the extension of Dewitt would go. Until the credit markets loosen, not much will happen on that front.

Long term, say 20 years, my guess is that the internal street will be built and the zoning will change to accommodate some of the mixed use changes.

I also expect that in the next five years the abandoned gas station next to Baskin Robbins will be replaced with some kind of commercial or possibly mixed use development.

The McMenamin brothers, owners of the Hillsdale Brew Pub, are clearly interested in real estate development. They could also get involved at some point.

11:00 PM  
Anonymous Not On Your Life said...

As a resident living in this area, let me just say, "Over my expensive body." As long as I am here and can breathe, I will throw down every legal and regulatory roadblock possible to further development and congestion in this area. Long live the covenant! And stop wasting money on plans that won't happen. Spend them on helping poor people.

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Dave Allen said...

Some thoughts on Hillsdale's future and the Sunset Triangle debacle..

Hyper Local News and Portland's Hillsdale District

1:25 PM  
Blogger Rick Seifert said...

I strongly urge readers to go to Dave's comments on his site.

I have written a response there as well.

Thanks again, Dave, for your passion about Hillsdale and its future.

6:16 PM  

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