With the sunshine kicking into high gear, so is the City with its community outreach and planning of the Town Center.
The Wilsonville City Council and Wilsonville Planning Commission held a joint work session May 15 to review previous and existing outreach efforts and planning consultants' current visions for the redevelopment.
The Town Center Plan is intended to create a community-led vision for the approximately 100-acre Wilsonville Town Center area. Currently primarily a retail space with large parking lots, the plan includes the proposal of new projects, policies and programs that will help to bring a more comprehensive retail, recreational and residential vision to life in the indeterminate future. At this point, the plan is still in its concept phase.
Wilsonville Planning Manager Miranda Bateschell led the work session, presenting the first major milestone in the planning process: The community vision for the future of the Wilsonville Town Center.
"My hope for tonight is that you all understand where we are in the project, what we've learned to date and where we're headed," Bateschell said. "And secondly that we get your support and guidance on the vision and goals that we're going to present to you this evening."
The project's consultants — DKS Consulting Group, Leland Consulting Group and MIG, Inc. — spent the past several months, since the Feb. 28 Town Center Community Kickoff event — collecting and analyzing community feedback on what residents feel the Town Center should become.
"People want to see a heart or a hub," project manager Alex Dupey said.
To create a hub, consultants recommend creating a walkable destination with multiple draws, including shopping, restaurants and outdoor recreation spaces. This style of design caters to who consultants say is Wilsonville's largest demographic: Millennials.
The consultants' research found Millennials — born between 1981-1994 — are highly drawn to urban environments that offer walkability, transit and an overall sense of quality. Following in that vein, consultants said that "traditional retail" stores and chains are falling short of shoppers' expectations because they are too impersonal, segmented and don't offer customers a meaningful experience.
"We're not starting with a blank slate," Councilor Charlotte Lehan said. "We need to take care of the existing businesses that we have and incorporate them into not only the process but also the end product."
Another main issue of concern discussed was connectivity and access.
"We need to make sure that people who live around it can be comfortable and access it," Mayor Tim Knapp said.
"The connectivity issues is one of the top things that we've been talking about," Dupey said.
One of the most ambitious suggestions for the redevelopment is the creation of a bike and pedestrian bridge crossing over Interstate 5, connecting Town Center to the west side of Wilsonville. This centralized crossing would allow non-motorists to avoid the danger of vehicle traffic. Design of the bridge would be funded by a Metro regional grant that was awarded in April 2017.
But considerations for the look and feel of the bridge won't come until the design phase of the Town Center planning process, which can't be started until the analysis of the site's existing conditions is complete.
But the council and commission came one step closer to the project's next phase by evaluating the Town Center Task Force's initial recommendations for future development and its draft "vision statement."
Consultants said that the task force envisioned a walkable housing and retail district with nightlife and local flair. The draft vision calls for a hub that will act as the "heart of Wilsonville"
with parks, civic spaces, community amenities and attractions while providing expanded shopping, dining, culture and entertainment options. Several members of the council hoped to continue refining the language of the
vision statement to be less vague, directing staff to come back with a new version.
Once the council and commission establish an approved vision and goals, the project team will begin Phase II, in which initial design concepts will be presented to the public for input. Design concepts are anticipated to cover a myriad of options pertaining to density, building styles and design and connectivity. The next chance for community input will be June 26 at the Community Design Workshop.