Hillsdale Town Center Phased Redevelopment Plan

Portland, Oregon | with SERA Architects 2008-09

The Hillsdale Town Center, a mixed-use neighborhood center of approximately 100 acres, contains a mixture of residential densities, stable single-family neighborhoods, a large public school property, a newly-built branch library, and a long-standing commercial strip along SW Capitol Highway which bisects the study area (carrying nearly 30,000 vehicles per day). However, more than ten years following a Town Center Plan, the area remains incomplete. Despite a range of urban design studies and recent physical improvements, Hillsdale still does not have a clearly articulated town center, and the physical appearance of the district’s commercial buildings were of particular concern to the community. Through a series of public workshops, community outreach, property owner input, and a development opportunity study, the Phased Development Strategy expands upon previous planning efforts, describes a series of actions to improve the function and appearance of the district, and demonstrates how Hillsdale can become a model town center for the region.

Hillsdale Town Center redevelopment concept.
Hillsdale Town Center redevelopment concept.
Redevelopment Concept

The majority of the energy in the Hillsdale town center is located on either side of the highway which bisects the neighborhood. This highway currently has a five lane cross-section—two travel lanes in each direction with a center turn lane. Each side has a decently-sized sidewalk with landscaping; however, there is no opportunity for on-street parking on the highway or elsewhere in the majority of the town center. With little opportunity for the city to allow on-street parking in the near, or even distant, future, and considering the very large blocks which limit pedestrian movement through the town center, it seemed natural to formalize into a perpendicular main street the system of driveways and parking lots on the north side of the highway. A new plaza located on a minimally functional parking lot at the intersection of the proposed main street and the highway will provide a formal and visible gathering space for community events.

Phased implementation concept
Hillsdale Town Center phased implementation concept.
Dewitt Street extension

Redevelopment framework

Mid-block crossing framework
Redevelopment framework at Capitol Highway midblock crossing and proposed central plaza.
Plaza conceptual design
Schematic design for proposed central plaza.
Plaza action steps
Action steps for the city and the neighborhood for building the plaza.

Upper plaza
Proposed plaza at intersection of the proposed north-south main street and the proposed Dewitt Street extension.
Pro forma
Development opporunity study pro forma.
Development Opportunity Study

One of the property owners expressed interest in redeveloping his property to a higher density: it would transition from a small office building to a five story mixed use retail/office building. Retail would front Sunset Boulevard and an extension of Dewitt Street. New live-work units could line the opposite face of the Dewitt Street extension. A small plaza would anchor the west end at the intersection with the proposed north-south main street. The study examined a potential conceptual design for this redevelopment and included a rough pro forma to assess its viability. Unfortunately, considering the deteriorating real-estate and economic environment in late 2008/early 2009, the development had a significant viability gap; however, it is possible that this project could become viable within the next few years.