A Seattle developer has made a favorable first impression on some city officials with its $121 million Westgate Redevelopment Proposal.
Urban Renaissance Group submitted its ambitious plan to the city and Metro Monday night to build a 17-story office tower with structured parking and 144 apartments in two separate four-story buildings above street-level retail on the former Westgate Theater property in downtown Beaverton.
'It's a really solid proposal,' said Mayor Rob Drake following his first look at the plan. 'I think it's exactly what we would want to see in our regional center.
'It's apparent to me that the developer put a great deal of interest and passion into the proposal.'
Lonnie Dicus, the city's project manager, also had high praise for the developer's approach.
'Urban Renaissance has taken the first, right step in understanding where the city wants to go with such a significant project for our downtown core,' Dicus said. 'Initially, I have a favorable impression of the proposal.
'I really appreciate the effort Urban Renaissance invested to come up with solutions that fit with a lot of the city's goals. In their proposal, they spoke to a lot of the goals that were identified as part of the visioning effort and in our sustainability plan, and that's really nice to see.'
He also gave them high marks for requesting more time to study challenging connectivity issues at the site and to meet with neighborhood groups, adjoining businesses and city staff in various departments to seek input on the project.
'This developer has been really receptive to the feedback they have been given by city staff and has been very open to meeting with a number of people,' added Liz Jones, associate city planner.
After months of work, the Urban Renaissance team is confident it has put together a plan that will be a welcome addition near The Round at Beaverton Central.
'The project is critical to the success of a new Beaverton city center,' said Patrick Callahan, founder and chief executive officer of the development firm.
As the only proposal on the table, city officials admit there remain a lot of unanswered questions. The biggest being who will finance the project?
'If the city identifies us as the selected developer, we will be in a good position to go out and talk to people in the financial market to find a partner to accomplish the project,' said Thomas Kilbane, Urban Renaissance's director of project coordination. 'We're anxious to see how the city is going to respond to our proposal.'
The success of the project also hinges on agreements with adjacent property owners for the construction of three traffic signals and eight road projects to improve accessibility and connectivity to the urban center.
'The site presents significant traffic flow and connectivity challenges,' Callahan said. 'Our team has worked diligently to identify creative solutions to address these challenges.'
'Group Mackenzie has done a fantastic job and done the lion's share of work in putting this plan together,' Kilbane said of the design of the project. 'If we are successful in bringing the vision to reality, people will want to live and operate their businesses here.'
By participating in the city's visioning process, Kilbane said his firm and Group Mackenzie were able to craft a redevelopment plan that would meet the community's goals to create a vibrant central core in downtown, improve mobility and enhance livability while also incorporating sustainable construction practices.
'I went through some of the visioning sessions because the themes of the process so strongly aligned with what we were working on,' Kilbane added.
He's particularly proud of plans for the office tower with street-level retail and structured parking spaces. At 17 stories, it would become the tallest building in Beaverton and all of Washington County.
'I think it will make a strong statement in the center of Beaverton,' Kilbane said. 'It is very visual and creates a sense of place for the downtown core.'
Several components of the proposal also appealed to Drake.
'It meets the mixed-use requirements and it also has a really nice corridor feel,' Drake said. 'It's a very attractive place for people to visit and walk and explore.
'I was impressed by their commitment to sustainability. All the buildings would meet the LEED Gold standard. Considering the constraints - the odd shape of the property and it not being melded with adjoining properties - I think it's as good a proposal as we could see for that property.'
The City Council will have the opportunity to review the proposal during an April 21 work session that will include a presentation by the Urban Renaissance Group.
'The council will tell us if we're heading in the right direction,' Drake said. 'If the council likes the proposal, the developer will be able to utilize it as a tool to then go to shop the project and seek funding.
'We have nothing to lose.'
City officials said they planned to take their time in completing a preliminary technical review of the proposal.
'It may change and evolve,' Dicus said. 'At the end of the day, what is really important when we do such significant projects is that they will ultimately add to the quality of life, make Beaverton a better place and enhance the community in some way.
'If the proposed projects will help build your community, then you can start looking at the bricks and mortar and hope it all comes together.'