Beaverton Downtown Loop Project

Introduction 

The Loop is an important concept identified in the Beaverton Downtown Design Project (DDP) that establishes a strong connection between Old Town and Beaverton Central along the SW Hall Blvd. and SW Watson Ave. one-way pair, from the north end where they come together at Crescent St. south to SW Fifth Ave. The Loop is a unifying concept, intended to reimagine the use of public space and insert a common set of elements into the streetscape to aid wayfinding, establish a district identity, prioritize pedestrian, bicycle and transit safety and mobility, and spur new private investment that will add to the vibrancy of Downtown Beaverton.

Background

ULI Technical Assistance Panel

In 2016, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Northwest collaborated with the City of Beaverton on a study of downtown Beaverton. ULI’s Technical Assistance Panel brought planning, real estate and economic development experts to study how to create a connected downtown. Their recommendations included:

  • Prioritize investment and place-making in Old Town and Broadway
  • Improve connectivity and communication
  • Re-craft development process

This collaboration identified the Downtown Loop Project as a key tangible way to follow through with these recommendations, especially those related with connectivity and place making.

A report documenting the panel’s recommendations

Downtown Design Project

The Downtown Design Project (DDP) is a plan to transform Downtown Beaverton into the social, economic, and cultural heart of Beaverton. Transformation will occur with guidance from the plan’s adopted Urban Design Framework, development regulations, and implementation actions. See the city council approved Urban Design Framework.

The Urban Design Framework articulates the plan’s vision for a “Vibrant Downtown” and provides a high-level organizing structure. The framework has three pillars:

  • Gateways - reinforce points of arrival and departure to and from Downtown;
  • Connectivity & Mobility – establish strong connections north/south and east/west; and
  • Character Areas - define Downtown’s centers of activity.

During the DDP process strong support coalesced around the Downtown Loop Project concept introduced by the Urban Land Institute initiative as the most important way to practically move forward with fulfilling these three pillars.

Downtown Beaverton Loop Urban Design and Transport Plan

The City of Beaverton has hired Walker Macy to provide consultant services supporting the development of a Downtown Beaverton Loop Urban Design and Transportation Plan (Loop).  This project involves a multi-disciplinary design team including landscape architects, urban designers, civil engineers, traffic engineers and/or other design professionals, as well as community engagement specialists. Work began in September 2020 and is expected to be completed in June 2021. The consultant will perform the following tasks:

  1. Project Initiation: Assembling project committees, identifying key stakeholders, and finalizing the work and community engagement plans
  2. Inventory and Analysis: Reviewing relevant policies and plans, undertaking existing conditions fieldwork and inventories, and analyzing the corridor to identify project opportunities and constraints
  3. Project Vision, Goals and Objectives: Conducting community engagement to gather input on the inventory and analysis to identify community needs and priorities, and develop the downtown Loop’s vision, goals and objectives
  4. Design Alternatives Development, Refinement and Plan Adoption: Developing preliminary design alternatives, conducting technical analysis, gathering feedback on the concepts, and refining the design to identify a preferred design alternative

These elements may be included into the Loop design:

Transportation Components

  • Multi-modal street cross-sections
  • Intersection operations and roadway alignment
  • Traffic signal and crossing improvements
  • Bus stop siting and improvements
  • On-street parking, including drop off/pick up/loading zones
  • Pedestrian crossing treatments
  • Traffic calming measures
  • Bicycle parking

Streetscape Components

  • Street trees
  • Street furnishing elements
  • Art and/or wayfinding signage locations
  • Street lighting
  • Paving style
  • Gateway treatments

Other Important Considerations

  • Utilities
  • Storm water management facilities
  • Tactical/accelerated/interim changes for more immediate impact, especially at north end of the Loop.

Details regarding the Loop Concept

The Loop concept connects Beaverton Central and Old Town, two distinct districts of downtown Beaverton. It links significant cultural, economic and civic destinations, including the under-construction Patricia Reser Center for the Arts, restaurants and services in historic Old Town, Beaverton City Park, the Beaverton Farmer’s Market and the Beaverton City Library. The Urban Design Framework Plan establishes many of these destinations with a gateway treatment. The Loop shall be welcoming and accessible to all ages and abilities and be welcoming to a diversity of residents, employees and visitors.

Pedestrian and bicycle access along the Loop route currently face significant impediments, including SW Canyon Road (OR 8), the Union Pacific railroad tracks and SW Farmington Road (OR 10), as well as very different traffic and land use conditions.

The north section of the Loop runs from the north end of the Hall/Watson one-way pair near SW Crescent Street, south to SW Broadway Street with a mix of development patterns from new, medium-rise, mixed-use development to large- lot, low-rise, automobile-oriented uses. The south section of the Loop runs south of SW Broadway Street to SW 4th St in the area known as Old Town. Blocks here are 200’ long and the development pattern is one/two-story, older commercial buildings with three new mixed-use developments (a fourth is under construction).

TriMet serves Downtown Beaverton with 11 bus lines stopping at the Beaverton Transit Center, as well other stops across the Downtown area. Blue and Red MAX lines and WES commuter rail also stop at the Beaverton Transit Center. The MAX Blue line also stops at the Beaverton Central MAX stop; however, TriMet is planning to extend the Red line to Hillsboro in 2023/24, so both lines will use the Beaverton Central stop. Frequent-service bus route 76 runs along SW Hall Blvd. Regarding traffic, this one-way pair services as the main north/south arterial through Downtown. SW Watson Ave. and SW Hall Blvd. each carries approximately 10,000 vehicles per day (pre-pandemic counts).

As part of the Urban Design Framework developed as part of the DDP, consultants developed several high-level draft Loop cross-sections for SW Hall Blvd. and SW Watson Ave. The cross-sections included options for wider sidewalks, protected bike lanes, on-street parking and street trees. All were vetted internally and two were presented at a public open house to measure reactions and gather feedback. Walker Macy will consider these concepts, as well as develop new concepts, as part of the design process.

The Urban Design Framework distinguishes several destinations with a gateway treatment. One notable gateway is at the north end of the Loop, adjacent to the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts (PRCA), which is under construction and anticipated to be open in fall 2021. The city is interested in prioritizing this area for immediate attention, perhaps with a tactical urbanism intervention or other improvement to coincide with the opening of the PRCA and that precedes the construction of the remainder of the Loop.

Other notable gateways that are priorities for the city to support its economic development activities at the intersection of SW 1st St and Watson, the heart of Beaverton’s Restaurant Row, and the intersections of Hall and Watson at SW Canyon Road and SW Farmington Road. These intersections, as well as other locations in the public right of way or on city-owned property, may also be considered for priority improvements and place making activities that precede construction of the remainder of the Loop. 

The Downtown Loop improvements will trigger the city’s Percent for Art program and the city anticipates a separate call for proposals to select an artist to create a public art plan for the project area. Coordination between the team working on the public art planning process and the Downtown Loop planning process is anticipated and community engagement activities may also be coordinated.