City of Gresham (OR) – Springwater Master Urbanization Plan

ChallengeLike many parts of the nation, Gresham’s economy needed a “shot in the arm.” Correcting the city’s jobs-to-housing imbalance was seen as a key factor in improving the city’s economic position. However, competition for the clean, economically viable industries that bring desirable, family wage jobs is fierce. Located in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area, Gresham’s options for expansion were affected by the region’s urban growth boundary (UGB). Put in place in 1978 by Metro, the regional government for the 24 cities and 3 counties of the region, the UGB separates urban land from rural with the goal of limiting the loss of farm, forest, and resource lands. Metro’s decision to add roughly 15,000 acres of urban reserve lands to the UGB—including the 1,600+ acre Springwater Community to Gresham’s south—provided a unique opportunity for city leaders to create an employment center to improve the community’s jobs-to-housing ratio and capture additional tax revenues.

ApproachThe City of Gresham, together with Multnomah County, engaged a multi-disciplinary team to prepare a detailed annexation plan for the Springwater Community under Title 11 of the Metro Code. As part of a team lead by Fregonese Calthorpe Associates (now Fregonese Associates), TIP developed industry targets for East Multnomah County, including advanced materials, forestry and agricultural biotechnology, and nanotechnology. The work also included an analysis of supporting housing and commercial services. Subsequent tasks included estimates of revenue generation, a marketing/recruitment team, and recommendations about phasing of the annexation.

OutcomeThe addition of more than 1,600 acres to the urban growth boundary provides a significant chance for Gresham to redefine itself within the metropolitan area. The proposed Springwater Community has several key assets, including stunning views, pastoral setting, and high-end amenities. The Springwater Community Plan was adopted in November 2005 as part of City of Gresham’s Comprehensive Plan. Since that time, the city has continued to work with residents and stakeholders to implement the pre-development phase of the plan, which includes identifying funds for needed infrastructure improvements. The project is expected to be built out over a 20-year period.

TIP Contact Jon Roberts

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