Urban redevelopment consultant Michele Reeves is bringing her expertise to Hillsboro as the largest city in Washington County looks to transform its downtown into a dynamic urban core.
The idea to bring Reeves on board came two years ago when Karla Antonini, project manager for Hillsboro's economic development, attended a Metro presentation featuring Reeves. Antonini came away impressed.
"Reeves and Metro did some work with Vancouver, and she showed what they had gone through. There were several property owners who were moved to take action and improve their building. That's what we're looking for," Antonini said. "One of our biggest things is to get property owners on board, not just the merchants – kind of get everybody looking at it through the same lens."
The first step was an overview Reeves gave to Hillsboro business and property owners on July 28, to outline the stages of downtown development and the fundamentals that thriving downtowns share. Reeves will give two more presentations, a detailed exploration of Hillsboro's downtown and a walk-through of another main street she has helped redevelop.
Reeves, who helped turn Mississippi Avenue in Northeast Portland into a destination shopping and dining spot, has also worked with Tigard and Oregon City.
"That's what we're trying to create downtown, a destination. We need a better mix of shops. We need a brewpub, we need a bakery, a grocery store … and we also need more housing downtown," Antonini said. "Michele knows exactly how to get it done."
There are plenty of empty storefronts to fill. Antonini said she counted five on Main Street and additional empty spaces on side streets, all ripe for redevelopment.
"Hopefully some of the building owners will see the things she brings forward that we can do, and see the value in that," Antonini said. "It's totally amazing what can be done once somebody starts it, and it keeps snowballing from there."
Downtown analysis and recommendations
4 p.m. Sept. 12, Hillsboro Civic Center