Thursday, September 13, 2018    5:30 to 7:30 pm
Walnut Community Room
4950 NW Fair Oaks Dr., Corvallis, OR 97330

Join your neighbors at the open house! Learn about the proposed urban renewal for South Corvallis, how urban renewal works, and how it could benefit all of Corvallis — not just South Corvallis.

Urban renewal can help bring new projects to South Corvallis. Ideas include affordable housing, improvements to Highway 99, with increased pedestrian and bicycle safety and access, as well better access to retail and other services. The Urban Renewal Plan is a grass-roots effort. At the open house, you’ll meet some of the people working on the plan and learn how the proposed projects tie into existing plans and community values.

Urban renewal is an economic development tool that provides funding for projects in specific areas in cities. It has been used for decades in cities around the country, including more than 100 urban renewal areas in Oregon. It is often used to give a boost to areas of a city that have historically lacked investment.

South Corvallis Urban Renewal Plan Departmental Advisory Committee that includes community members, property owners, City Councilors and representatives of taxing districts has been formed to identify projects and develop the urban renewal plan with the assistance of City staff and the an urban renewal consultant. There will be opportunities in the coming weeks for the community to provide input on the plan as it comes together.

This link will direct you to the Departmental Advisory Committee meeting packets:

If you’d like to learn more about urban renewal as a community development tool for South Corvallis, read on below.

Why use Urban Renewal in South Corvallis?

South Corvallis hasn’t grown or developed in the ways many people predicted. Back in 1997, the City of Corvallis adopted the South Corvallis Area Refinement Plan, which envisioned a vibrant neighborhood commercial center that would provide a mix of housing, and a range of retail and neighborhood services to serve the area. While there is great support for this vision, it has not transpired, and 21 years later South Corvallis still lacks nearby access to retail and services.

Now, with the enthusiasm and recommendation of the grassroots Living Southtown group, the City is working with property owners and South Corvallis neighborhoods to explore an urban renewal district as a pathway to development that will help meet the needs of the South Corvallis community. An advisory committee was formed, and additional community input will be obtained through public events.

Why Hasn’t the Area Developed as Planned?

The South Corvallis area has specific and significant barriers to development which stop most substantial projects before they ever get started:

  • South Corvallis lacks basic transportation infrastructure. There is a need for improved street connectivity in South Corvallis, and enhanced, pedestrian-focused street improvements that offer a safe and more inviting experience for shoppers, residents, and visitors.
  • Barriers to development.  A prime example is the proposed neighborhood center site. This site currently includes an old livestock auction yard and a former farm machinery store. While the location is desirable, it will need considerable work before it’s ready for new development. The costs of clearing, and transportation improvements have been a barrier to development of the site, along with others in the area.
  • There isn’t a well-developed sense of place in the area. Developers like to invest their dollars in areas where they know the area is on the rise. This can be achieved through the City’s investment of dollars to remove barriers and set the table for development. One way to show the City has invested in an area is to create a sense of place. Cities do this by creating safe and inviting streets and common areas, with landscaping, buffers between pedestrians and vehicles, and attractive public spaces. Currently, those elements are missing in South Corvallis.

How Can Urban Renewal Help?

Urban renewal in South Corvallis can provide funding for projects to do the following:

  • Provide basic infrastructure. Urban renewal can help fund projects to provide basic infrastructure in the area including water, sewer, and storm water. Funding these projects immediately removes a major upfront cost for developers and makes the sites economically viable, and much more appealing.
  • Provide safe and attractive streetscapes and transportation infrastructure. Urban renewal can provide funds for projects to improve the streetscapes and transportation infrastructure in the area.
  • Develop affordable housing options. Corvallis is working to provide more affordable housing in the community. Urban renewal is commonly used in communities as a tool to assist in the development of affordable and workforce housing.
  • Remove barriers for developers. Urban renewal allows the City and community to work and partner with developers in bringing projects to fruition. The investment of private funds can transform an area and help fulfill the vision for a neighborhood commercial center, and the overarching vision for Southtown.

Will Urban Renewal Increase My Property Taxes? 

Urban renewal isn’t an additional tax or a tax increase. Urban renewal changes how the existing taxes paid on a property are divided out amongst different agencies. As the value of properties in the urban renewal district increases, money becomes available to be used on the projects described above. If urban renewal is approved by the voters, every property owner in Corvallis will see a line item on their property tax bill for urban renewal. This will not represent a new tax, just a new way to distribute the taxes they would already pay.

How Are Schools Impacted?

Schools are funded on a per-student basis from the State School Fund as determined by the Oregon Legislature. They are not directly impacted by urban renewal. Area schools will continue to get the same amount of funding even after an urban renewal district is created.

What is the Process for Adopting an Urban Renewal Plan?

In Corvallis, all voters in the city will determine whether to use urban renewal as an economic development tool in South Corvallis.  The Corvallis City Council will review an urban renewal plan that will be developed with considerable community input. They will then decide whether to send it out for a future vote of the Corvallis community.

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