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RUNNING THE SHOW

When the NW Natural Street of Dreams comes to town, organizers know they not only have to manage crowds but please neighbors, too


REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Work continues at the site of the 2015 NW Natural Street of Dreams, which is expected to draw more than 50,000 people to Lake Oswego in August.With more than 50,000 visitors anticipated during the month of August, the NW Natural Street of Dreams could very well be one of the biggest single events ever held within Lake Oswego’s city limits.

That makes the luxury home tour a unique opportunity to shine a light on all that makes this such a special place to live, Assistant City Manager Megan Phelan says. But it doesn’t mean everyone was initially thrilled about the crowds that will descend on the community this summer.

“Nobody really felt we needed this show,” says Scott Bullard, a member of the Forest Highlands Neighborhood Association board. Many weren’t thrilled with the idea of nine homes being built just outside their doorsteps, or the thought of thousands of people flooding through their streets.

“We almost didn’t want the attention,” Bullard says.

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - The 40th annual NW Natural Street of Dreams is taking shape at The Highlands in Lake Oswego, which is located at the corner of Goodall and Knauss roads.And therein lies the challenge, not only for Phelan and the city but also for the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland, which produces the Street of Dreams: How do you move crowds of visitors in and out of the city while making sure neighbors closest to the show can live comfortably?

Directing traffic

The HBA expects this year’s Street of Dreams at The Highlands to be big, not only because it’s the 40th annual show but also because it’s in Lake Oswego. The show, at the corner of Goodall and Knauss roads, will showcase nine homes valued at more than $2 million each and run from Aug. 1 to Aug. 30.

Rachel Trice, the HBA’s vice president of membership services and events, and Helen Lewis, the show’s event manager, meet monthly with Phelan to discuss all aspects of the event. Lake Oswego Police Lt. Doug Treat and city traffic engineer Amanda Owings joined them at one recent gathering to discuss the best routes for the free shuttles that will transport visitors from offsite parking lots to the show to minimalize on-street parking.

“We want to be prepared, and we want to try to minimalize the impact as much as we can,” Phelan says, adding that she was glad to see that the HBA team “really took the input of staff into consideration.”

Trice and Lewis say the shuttle routes will focus on using protected intersections and avoiding bottlenecks.

As visitors enter Lake Oswego for the show on weekdays this summer, signs will direct them from Highway 43 or Boones Ferry Road to free weekend parking in the corporate park at 4000 Kruse Way Place or free weekday parking at River West Church (2000 Country Club Road).

The weekend shuttle will pick up guests outside Building A near the Kruse Way Place parking lot. From there, it will turn left onto Boones Ferry Road and right onto Knaus Road to enter the shuttle turnaround area, located off the Goodall Road entrance to the Street of Dreams. On the way back, the shuttle will drive down Goodall Road, turn right onto Country Club Road, left onto Boones Ferry Road. and then right onto Kruse Way Place to enter the parking lot.

REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Nine homes are under construction in Lake Oswego for this years Street of Dreams. Each will carry a price tag between $2 million and $2.5 million.A weekend trolley also is planned to shuttle visitors to the Street of Dreams from downtown Lake Oswego and the Lake Grove business district. Exact pickup locations are still being finalized, but the HBA says the downtown Lake Oswego route will likely travel down A Avenue onto Country Club Road, turn right onto Boones Ferry Road, turn right onto Knaus Road, turn left at Goodall Road and enter the bus turnaround site. The Lake Grove shuttle will travel down Boones Ferry Road, turn right onto Knaus Road, turn left onto Goodall Road and then enter the turnaround area.

On weekdays, the shuttle will leave River West Church and turn right onto Country Club Road, left onto Goodall Road and then into the bus turnaround area. To return to the parking area, the shuttle will drive down Goodall Road, turn right onto Country Club Road and then left into the Lake Oswego Junior High parking lot, using the connected path to enter the church parking lot.

Up until a few weeks ago, Lake Oswego High School was the planned main parking area, with River West Church to be used for overflow parking. But because the high school had so many activities going on over the summer, Lewis says that plan fell through. The HBA is still determining overflow parking options.

Trice and Lewis say their team will post “No Event Parking” signs throughout the neighborhoods surrounding the Street of Dreams, starting on July 29.

Reassuring neighbors

Lewis says that with any Street of Dreams development, neighbors are bound to come forward with “a bucket of similar concerns.” In hopes of getting the Forest Highlands neighborhood and other Lake Oswego residents on board with the project, the HBA kicked off a public relations campaign last fall, not long after the group had wrapped up the 2014 show in Happy Valley.

Trice and Lewis began reaching out to the city, the business community and the neighborhood associations — often meeting for casual question-and-answer sessions in neighbors’ homes.

“Helen and I have been in a lot of living rooms,” Trice says. “It’s really community relations at the grassroots level.”

The development’s project manager, Jesse Nemec, has also held his share of neighborhood meetings, starting about a year and a half ago.

“Initially it was a lot of concern and just confusion,” he says. “Some of them were upset that the property was going to be developed in the first place.”

Neighbors’ main concerns revolved around construction disruptions, the potential for stormwater runoff issues and traffic and parking during the show. Nemec says he gave neighbors his phone number early on. When a builder parks a construction vehicle in front of an immediate neighbor’s house, Nemec will likely get the call.

As for drainage, he says the development has used specific engineering controls for stormwater detention and water quality. The development includes planters, bioswales and a massive underground detention tank.

“I think we’ve proved that we do everything we say we’re going to do,” he says. “Now I’m on good terms with all of those neighbors.”

Trice says she’s seen many of the most concerned neighbors grow to become the show’s biggest advocates. “They’ve become part of the process,” she says. “They know us; there’s a face to it.”

Trice says she and her team make sure neighbors know that construction will ramp up in the last two weeks of July as workers add their finishing touches. She’s also told neighbors that during the show, Saturdays and Sundays will be the busiest days of the week, with Thursdays and Fridays a close second.

Week by week, the show will get busier rather than slower, Trice says, and people will flood in for their last chance to see the homes during the closing weekend. At the same time, she says, Street of Dreams visitors tend to be “very casual, very mellow.”

“They’re not rowdy,” she says. “They’re in a strolling, sightseeing mood.”

To sweeten the deal for nearby neighbors, the HBA will offer discounted tickets to the show through neighborhood associations. And this year, the Street of Dreams team has combined its Block Party kickoff celebration with the Forest Highlands neighborhood barbecue to thank neighbors and welcome them to the new development.

Bullard says that even though many Forest Highlands residents have grown weary of the various development projects in their neighborhood over the past few years, the HBA has “been a good partner. They’ve really stepped up to every obligation that they’ve committed to.”

Come September, he hopes residents look past the construction, traffic and crowds.

“I just hope we can welcome good neighbors,” Bullard says. “Hopefully they will bring lots of kids and will be involved in the community and the schools.”

Contact Kelsey O’Halloran at 503-636-1281 x101 or kelseyo@pamplinmedia.com.

IF YOU GO

What: 40th Annual NW Natural Street of Dreams

When: Saturday, Aug. 1 to Sunday, Aug. 30

Where: The Highlands in Lake Oswego, at the corner of Goodall and Knauss roads

Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Details: The Highlands features 16 residential lots that range from a quarter-acre to a half-acre. The show will feature nine homes, priced between $2 million and $2.5 million. Parking will be offsite, with shuttles to the show.

More info: streetofdreamspdx.com

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