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Cedar Mill News
Volume 2, Issue 10


October 2004

Peterkort's Big Plans

By Virginia Bruce

The Peterkort family recently unveiled its Master Plan for most of the remaining undeveloped land along both sides of Barnes Road from Cedar Hills Boulevard to the Sunset Transit Center. This area is slated for a mix of commercial – offices and retail – and relatively high-density residential development.

Metro, the tri-county government, has mandated that counties must plan for the population growth expected in the region by 2040. Washington County has responded by placing high density development in regions with good transit access. The Peterkort land is considered “Transit Oriented” (referred to in planning documents as TO) because of its proximity to highways and the Sunset Transit Center (which was built on land half-donated and half-sold to TriMet by the Peterkorts).

Johnson Street South (East District) from the Peterkort Master Plan

According to the County’s Cedar Hills-Cedar Mill Community Plan, this area is “proposed for intense urban development over time, including high density residential, retail, and office commercial uses.” The Community Plan was first published in 1983, and has been updated at least 23 times with new ordinances, the latest added in October 2003.

Lois Peterkort Ditmars says, “The county’s standards and principles were imposed almost eight years ago as a result of the Metro 2040 program. We have learned a lot in the last eight years, and that is the current program is not financially feasible. We told the county when they were implementing Metro’s program during the station area planning that if the planning imposed on us was financially infeasible we would not develop in those areas. That is why nothing has been done in the station area and probably won’t until it makes sense to the financial world.”

Peterkorts’ recently proposed Master Plan consists of six subsections. According to the plan, “It is the applicant’s intent, after approval of this application, to remove trees in non-sensitive areas of the master plan area and pursue an aggressive marketing strategy of the property.” That is, they intend to clear the land and begin to develop various areas according to the broad outlines of the plan and the county codes.

Current urban planning theory favors “mixed use” development for urban areas. An example is the new development in the North Pearl District with commercial uses at street level and residential above. This is the alternative to shopping malls surrounded by vast parking lots and separate apartment buildings.

But, Ditmars says, “We think mixed-use development is appealing but extremely risky, especially in the suburbs. The county’s development code on mixed-use development at transit stations is embryonic and never been tried,” she says. “Trying to get a lender to loan money on development that has never been fully accomplished in the Portland area suburbs and has a track record for failure is very difficult. Those that have tried have either had public money contributed to the development or were subsidized in other ways. We are not merchant developers and we will let other pioneers go first and pave the way or fail.”

Included in the Peterkorts’ plan are a residential care facility in the 112th Street West area at the northwest corner of Cedar Hills and Barnes; high-density mixed use housing and commercial in the Transit Center area; and office buildings and apartments along the north side of Barnes in the Johnson Creek North–East and West areas. All of the apartment buildings are apportioned at 50% 1 bedroom, 35% 2-bedroom, and 15% three-bedroom. W&H Pacific landscape architect Jimmy Bellomy states that, “at this time there is a demographic need for one-bedroom units, I am assuming for young working professionals, college students, etc.”

Bellomy mentions that there will be additional westbound lanes on Barnes Road. Those improvements will be imposed by the county once the final Traffic Report is reviewed and accepted. Construction of the improvements will be tied with adjacent development.

So why submit the Master Plan when there’s no hurry to build parts of it? According to Bellomy, “the Station Area is part of the overall Master Plan area so it makes sense to include it in the overall scheme. If there was development interest for that area, a “Master Plan” would have to be prepared and approved. By including it at this time, we have a “leg up” on any development opportunity.



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The Cedar Mill News
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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
12110 NW West Rd
Portland, OR 97229