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City officials say new through street connecting Huffman Street to Starr Boulevard is start of new industrial area

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - It may not look like much now, but city officials expect the North Hillsboro Industrial Renewal Area to draw high-tech companies from all over the world. Some of those companies are already moving here.A small project in North Hillsboro is set to finish by the end of August, according to city officials, but it could have big impacts on growth along the largely undeveloped portion of Hillsboro along Highway 26

Crews are finishing up work on the Huffman Street Project, a new street connecting Brookwood Parkway with Starr Boulevard to the west.

The road is in the North Hillsboro Industrial Renewal Area, 1,100 acres of mostly undeveloped land stretching from Highway 26 south to Evergreen Parkway. City officials hope to convert the land into industrial and high-tech businesses over the next several years.

Work on the area has been underway since 2005. Connecting Northwest Evergreen Parkway and Northwest Meek Road with Starr Boulevard was the first project to be completed, city spokesman Patrick Preston said.

Hillsboro is in the heart of the "Silicon Forest," a nickname given to the Portland area for its prevalence of high-tech companies, many of which are located in Hillsboro. Intel, Nike, SolarWorld, Genentech, Thermo Fisher Scientific and more have offices in the city, and Hillsboro planners have been working to accommodate those business by improving traffic circulation and greater accessibility overall, Preston said. The Industrial Renewal Area is one of the few large development opportunities in the Portland area capable of housing large industrial sites, according to the city.

The Huffman Street project is just one of several planned projects in the area. Brookwood Parkway is expected to be extended to Jackson School Road in the future, and several public utility projects are planned for the area, to make the city's northern border more attractive to future employers, according to the city. About 700 acres in undeveloped land is planned to be converted into a technology park.

That work has already showed dividends. Kansas data hosting company QTS Data Canters, purchased 92 acres of land along Brookwood Parkway near the current Huffman Street construction for a new data center, which plans to break ground this year.

"The city of Hillsboro understands the complexities of these industries and the need to stay on time and on budget with development schedules," city officials said in a statement.

About 48 percent of Hillsboro's total jobs are within the Hillsboro Industrial District, an 8,000-acre swath of land zoned for industrial use, which includes portions of the new renewal area. The district is home more than 32,000 employees and makes up nearly 20 percent of the region's manufacturing employment.

"Development of the District is a key component of Hillsboro's long-term plan to fulfill regional and local goals for managed growth and economic development including creation and retention of well-paid jobs," the city said in a statement. "The North Hillsboro Industrial Renewal Area represents one of the few significant development opportunities for large, undeveloped and diverse industrial sites in the Portland area to meet the region's needs and the public's vision for job creation and economic growth."

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