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Orenco poised to expand again

Signs of residential and employment growth in Hillsboro just keep coming.by: COURTESY IMAGE: HOLLAND PARTNERS - An artist's rendering of what the planned $120 million housing and commercial development at Orenco will look like when completed.

In a unanimous vote on the evening of March 5, the Hillsboro City Council gave final approval to a proposed $120 million mixed-use development at Orenco Station. Called the Platform District, it is set to be built by Holland Partners of Vancouver, Wash. The project will include at least 579 units in three new buildings, up to 25,000 square feet of retail space, and an outdoor plaza for public events. The development agreement approved by the council last week calls for five eating establishments to be built facing the plaza, which will be located near the MAX station.

To pave the way for the development, the council first needed to adopt a resolution allowing for expansion of the “vertical housing development zone” in the Orenco Station area.

Before the council voted, Colin Cooper, assistant planning director with the Hillsboro Planning Department, discussed the benefits of the proposed development and urged the council to take the necessary steps to allow Orenco to grow.

“This project delivers on council priorities,” Cooper told the council members. “It is transit-oriented and close to high employment centers. I feel the benefits to the community are significant.”

Cooper added that the city could get a substantial economic boost related to the housing expansion. He noted that as much as 80 percent of those working in Hillsboro commute here from nearby towns.

“That’s fine, but a tremendous amount of money is being spent somewhere else as a result,” he said.

Council President Aron Carleson said she believes the development will help bring the community together.

“It’s an important milestone,” said Carleson. “It provides a framework for unique development.”

After the meeting, Cooper said he was gratified the council offered such strong support for the expansion at Orenco.

“This is the final green light,” he pointed out.

“The city deserves a lot of credit for supporting a variety of housing choices that are close to both jobs and transportation alternatives,” said Gary Vance, Holland Partner’s development director. “This project is unique to Hillsboro, but we believe the community will support it.”

Holland Partners recently finished the 191-unit Platform 14 building in Orenco Station. The company is continuing work on the nearby 304-unit Tessera development.

The week before the council vote, officials at Salesforce.com, a rapidly-growing San Francisco software company, announced the firm will open an office in Hillsboro. It will reportedly hire more than 200 employees and move into the unoccupied Synopsys software building at 2035 N.W. Cornelius Pass Road.

“We are glad Salesforce.com has chosen Hillsboro for their new office location,” Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey said of the announcement. “They will be making use of a building that has been vacant for awhile, and their commitment to sustainability fits well with the city’s values. We are pleased to welcome them to our business community.”

The state of Oregon helped lure Salesforce.com to town with a $1.45 million loan that will be forgiven if the company meets hiring goals. The state recently used the same economic development tactic to help convince Oracle, a high-tech manufacturing company, to stay in Hillsboro and move 300 jobs up from Mexico.



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