Urban Onion: The City of Beaverton Seeks Livable Core
By: JEANETTE SCHUSTER
The latest efforts to transform the City of Beaverton into…well, Portland, apparently shape the city into an onion, made up of distinct layers. The outer layer, formed from offices and residential developments, encloses the inner core areas of the library, transit center, Broadway, and Old Town. Under proposal is an additional outer layer, or “skin,” consisting of a “transportation loop” that would run through Hall Boulevard and Watson Avenue and feature bike facilities and wider sidewalks. The elongated North-South loop would intersect with a number of pedestrian paths running East-West, forming the backbone of the downtown.
At the heart of Beaverton’s supposed development problem is that the city doesn't have enough of an "urban feel," consisting too much of suburban office parks and corporate campuses.
Dampening the development fever of city planners and developers is the rising cost of asphalt and steel — rising in part because of President Trump’s tariffs.
Add to these new plans Beaverton's future arts center — the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts (in The Round — SW Hall and Watson), which was financed partially by a $13 million dollar donation to the Beaverton Arts Foundation by Pat Reser (through the Reser Family Foundation) — and the city could be entirely transformed. As currently planned, the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts will include a 550-seat theater, classrooms, meeting and conference rooms, a rehearsal and workshop space, an art gallery, an outdoor plaza, a café, a lobby, and informal gathering areas.
The design process is currently underway, and both construction and funding timelines anticipate groundbreaking at the end of 2019 with a grand opening in early spring 2021. It looks like it will be a beautiful space. Design photos can be seen here.
My hope is that with its sights on trendy urban housing, a livelier retail scene, and increased alternative methods and routes of transportation, the city doesn’t lose sight of the wildlife within its bounds, which make the city a special place to live. I regularly encounter deer, rabbits, turtles, a variety of bird species, and other wildlife on my walks. I might be walking among corporate campuses, but they are still green and full of trees and surrounded by the city’s wetlands, parks, and green corridors (as pictured above). The City of Beaverton prides itself on having a park within half a mile of every home, and the Tualatin Park & Recreation District manages the city’s more than 100 parks.
As cities gobble up more and more of the country’s and the world’s green spaces, it is important to also usher in an era of non-development, a purposeful leaving-alone. Me, I’d rather watch an egret catch a frog than walk by a new trendy coffee shop any day of the week!