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OHSU/AmberGlen Statement of Purpose

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The Tanasbourne Town Center has emerged as one of the most successful concentrations of mixed-use activity in the Greater Portland region. Tanasbourne has already equaled the level of success found in most other regional and town centers and is now poised to exceed other regional town centers, as measured by the amount of new development. Proposed and existing development in the Tanasbourne Town Center now approaches 3.5 million square feet and 4000 plus dwelling units. At the same time as new development is attracted to the Tanasbourne area, OHSU and AmberGlen still have somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 acres of vacant land in the heart of Tanasbourne, with no clear plans for development. In addition, existing developed property has the potential for significant redevelopment, if placed in a new development context.

The City of Hillsboro believes it would be prudent to update the planning and development expectations for the larger Tanasbourne area, in particular, the aggregation of larger property holdings within what currently is being called the “OHSU/AmberGlen Plan Area”. Represented by Oregon Health Sciences University, Principal Financial Group, Oregon University System, and other major owners, this area holds the potential for creating higher asset values in the context of Urban Place Making. The area connects directly to light rail transit on the south, to mixed-use development including retailing in other parts of Tanasbourne to the north, and to multiple employment centers, especially health care, to the north, west and east. There is nothing quite like this anywhere in the Metro region.

The City of Hillsboro recognizes that the development of the larger Tanasbourne area needs to be a partnership between the property owners and the City.

This process is very much a joint process that needs to be embraced by both the public and private sectors to be successful. Implicit in the decision to move forward with alternative development plans, is the belief that the OHSU/AmberGlen Area can support more intensive development than originally contemplated. This means seriously considering a move beyond one, two and three story low-intensity development to five and six story mixed use towers. Residential and supportive retail development would be new development components not previously allowed in the area.

Market viability would be an integral part of the planning and decision-making process. It is in this context that the following phased scope of work is proposed.

  • Provide the opportunity to create a high value, mixed-use neighborhood which includes mixed, residential, employment, retail, and institutional uses.
  • Create a cohesive plan that links the various character and land uses of individual developments. Future land uses should complement each other and provide excellent access to employment and transportation.
  • Provide a vision for the area that can be adopted by the City through an amendment to the comprehensive plan and zoning code and implemented through private and public partnerships. This has the potential to allow successful development as uses permitted outright, without the need for CDP amendments, zone changes and variances.

Creating a “Place”

In concept, the project intends to transform the existing suburban business district known as OHSU/AmberGlen into a center with a strong sense of place. The process is based on the following principles for successful centers:

  • Understanding your position in and impact on the market
  • Building a community, not separate projects
  • Creating a public/private partnership
  • Developing a long term vision and a plan
  • Embracing mixed-use
  • Creating a pedestrian-friendly place
  • Optimizing connectivity
  • Reducing the reliance solely on the automobile
  • Stressing results over regulation
  • Removing barriers to new development and new activities in old development
  • Critical mass of mixed-use needed for an active 18-hour center
Benefits of Creating a “Place”

Competing districts within a region can create a surplus of retail/commercial/office space, lease restrictions and low rents which erodes the value of existing investment. However, the creation of a “place” can reverse this trend by creating an optimal mix of uses in which people shop, live and work. Once there, people tend to stay within the local community, providing stability and an adequate return on the investment that created the “place”. The planning process can enhance real estate values through increased rents, retail sales, and trips attracted into the area as a sense of community and increased tax bases are created. 

Creating a strategic plan for the OHSU/AmberGlen area would give property owners more control over the uses on their property and ultimately provide greater flexibility and encourage developments to be modified to meet community needs and aspirations. It can provide the groundwork for creating public private partnerships for improvements, improved circulation to move people in and through the center, and the critical mass of mixed-use needed for an active 18 hour center.

For more information, contact:

City of Hillsboro
Planning Department
150 E. Main Street, 4th Floor
Hillsboro, OR 97123