According to the City of Hillsboro Website, the latest Block 67 redevelopment agreement is dead and no longer binding. The exclusive agreement that was made with Rembold Development in 2022 led to much fanfare and a lot of press about a massive new project that would stimulate the downtown Hillsboro economy and provide important housing and groceries to the area. This 2nd attempt to develop the Block was greeted with a lot of mixed feelings, but the drawings were alluring. And for those with memories of the heartbreak felt when the last big project (announced in 2017) died, this one hurts. All of the time, energy, and Millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money now buried in the ground along Baseline & Washington Street seem to be such a lost opportunity.
The City bought the land in 2016 for $4,800,000 using Hillsboro taxpayers’ money. This price was $1,317,000 dollars per acre- a huge amount by any historical standards. Havings said that the property holds huge promise and could change the fortunes and lives of the people downtown. We need housing as much as air, and access to a grocery store has been stressed repeatedly at community meetings. I do not blame the City for wanting to be in the driver’s seat, but it has stopped the project from moving forward. Why? Cities like Hillsboro are not forced to develop or sell once they own things. They can take decades to wait for the right project. This project is at least 2 or 3 years from being realized, and if the economy does not improve, it may be another decade or more. Private developers do not wait- they move on things or go broke. Based on the fact the property was a hot item in 2016, it is not a stretch to opine that the entire block would have been completed with hundreds of residences and vibrant shops by 2020 if a private developer had bought it. Interest rates were 3%…now they are 7.75% for commercial loans. This news of this project dying for now is not surprising- but it is very sad.
Here is what you will find on the Hillsboro, Oregon Website.
Visit this Link at the City of Hillsboro Website To See Project Information – https://www.hillsboro-oregon.gov/our-city/departments/economic-development/development-areas/downtown-southwest-industrial/block-67
Block 67 Redevelopment Update
In September 2022, the City awarded Rembold, a local real estate development company, the exclusive right to negotiate for the purchase and development of Block 67 through a competitive RFP process.
Their proposal for the site — titled Viridian — included market-rate housing, retail space, a public plaza, and mid-sized grocery store to be delivered by Rembold, and an affordable housing development to be delivered by Related Northwest and Centro Cultural.
During the past year, Rembold and partners conducted surveys, estimates, and other due diligence tasks to advance the design through several iterations.
Now, project work is suspended due to the current state of the real estate and capital markets, and unprecedented increases to both borrowing and construction costs.
The parties remain interested, and committed, to the project should the economic conditions become more favorable.
QUESTIONS MUST BE ASKED-
Nestled between charming history and vibrant academia, Block 67 in Hillsboro is a prime piece of real estate, its future seemingly in limbo. In 2016, the city took a bold step – purchasing the vacant former Hank’s Thriftway site for $4.8 million with grand visions of redevelopment. Yet, eight years later, progress remains sluggish, begging the question: did Hillsboro miss a key opportunity by holding onto the reins when private developers could have steered the project to fruition faster?
The city’s initial enthusiasm was evident. A 2017 call for developers yielded promising options, but none gained traction or reached the finish line. Then, 2020 dealt a double blow with COVID-19 and skyrocketing construction costs, forcing the project into hibernation.
Now, we see the current Rembold Development deal off the table. As proposed, the “Viridian” was originally going to break ground in the late summer of 2023. Nothing is going to happen now or anytime soon.
- Was public ownership the best path? Could private developers have navigated the shifting economic landscape more nimbly, securing financing and navigating approvals while the city struggled to keep the project afloat?
- Lost momentum, lost opportunity? 8 years have passed since Hillsboro bought the property. While public control offers flexibility, did valuable time and potential partnerships slip through the cracks while navigating internal processes?
- The “Viridian” dream: achievable or wishful thinking? With construction costs still high and the economic forecast uncertain, can the ambitious vision of something like the stalled-out Viridian be realized, or will further delays and adjustments leave residents disappointed and businesses hesitant?
Hillsboro’s Block 67 stands as a complex case study in urban development. While the city’s desire for control and community-driven vision is commendable, the slow pace raises questions about whether private involvement could have propelled the project forward. I am quite certain it could have.
Dan Dias, Economic Development Director, told the Herald that “the site is not officially for sale. ”
Considering all that has transpired and the tens of millions in lost revenues that our downtown businesses and the local economy should have netted by now, it seems that it is time to put a price tag on the property and let the private sector have at least an option to carry the ball up the field and into the endzone.
Thoughts? We always appreciate our readers and the good people of Hillsboro weighing in. In fact, the Herald is right now the only paper or venue where debate can be had- no questions or open discussions are had at City meetings here in Hillsboro at all, and God forbid we would ever have a Town Hall format where real Q and A can be accomplished. So please weigh in below.
How do you feel about what is happening at Block 67?