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Downtownplan gets a final green light

More changes are on the way for Hillsboro’s business district. With a unanimous vote the evening of Dec. 16, the Hillsboro City Council adopted an ordinance that will create an Economic Improvement District (EID) for downtown Hillsboro.

Council president Aron Carleson said the move to create an EID has been going on for a long time and represents an important step forward in continuing the momentum toward a vibrant city center.

“There has been a focus on the downtown core since I started on the council,” said Carleson. “My second year in office, I testified to the Oregon Legislature regarding building codes for redeveloping. My hope is that it will further bring the businesses together to market what is already there, and encourage new businesses to consider locating there to enhance the success.”

With the decision made, the city will hold a public hearing Feb. 17 to determine the amount of annual assessments property owners within the EID’s boundaries will pay. The funds to be collected will pay for downtown projects and programs within the designated improvement district.

The borders of the EID go from the south side of Lincoln Street to the north side of Baseline Street, and from the east side of First Avenue to Fifth Avenue.

Properties inside the district will be assessed at either 0.4 percent or 0.6 percent of their assessed value, with the difference based on location. Regardless of their location, the property assessments would not exceed $1,700 per property each year, officials said.

“If the council decides to impose the assessments after hearing testimony at the public hearing on Feb. 17, then the property owners will be assessed with payments due no later than April 1,” said Karla Antonini, economic development project manager for the city of Hillsboro.

Fees would be assessed annually over a five-year period, with the city of Hillsboro administering the funds and executing the improvement plan. After five years, property owners and city officials will determine whether the program will continue.

Funds generated by creation of the EID will go to several specific enhancements to the downtown business district, including recruitment of new businesses and tenants for the downtown area; promotion and marketing of downtown Hillsboro and producing special events and activities; enhancement of the landscaping and streetscaping of the downtown area; and increasing maintenance and security.

Dwight Unti, owner of the 4th Main mixed commercial/residential development downtown, said he believes the EID will have a significant impact on the business district.

“I’m really pumped up about it,” said Unti. “It’s very powerful stuff to have the downtown property owners come together and work in a coordinated and strategic fashion. It’s an important tool in the revitalization process.”

Carleson said the downtown improvement package is a strong one.

“It’s safe to say the city is invested in creating a lively and prosperous downtown,” she said.

The EID has been under consideration for nearly two years. In early 2013, Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey and downtown property owners got together to consider ways to create a more active and thriving business district.

“I am happy the property owners are willing to take the next step,” said Carleson. “The mayor worked hard to build a coalition of support. I think it is a good plan, and am looking forward to the next phase for re-invigoration.”

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