Urbanizing Bend

The City of Bend is going forward with a feasibility study on several areas in the city that have been deemed as potential urban renewal areas.

The goal is to take areas of town that are experiencing blight – defined as areas with, for example, economic deterioration, inadequate streets or utilities and underused property – and transform them through different types of projects including housing authority projects, acquisition of property, construction of streets and utilities and neighborhood development programs.

Bend Economic Development Director Caroyln Eagan told Bend City Councilors five areas were examined:

  1. 3rd Street
  2. East Downtown
  3. Central Highway 20
  4. Southwest Century Drive
  5. Mill District/Core Pine

She said the five areas have been narrowed into three sections that will be explored in the feasibility study.

According to the City of Bend’s website, “Urban renewal is a state-authorized program designed to help communities improve areas that are physically deteriorated, poorly planned or underdeveloped. Any municipality (city or county) can use urban renewal but it must establish an urban renewal agency and adopt an urban renewal plan.”

“The City of Bend established the Bend Urban Renewal Agency in 1984 and uses urban renewal as a tool to focus resources in underdeveloped areas to stimulate economic development and improve livability,” the website states.

The next steps are to draft the scopes of work for the three feasibility studies and bring the studies back to the Bend Urban Renewal Agency.

Eagan said there’s a real financial analysis that goes along with urban renewal.

“You’re really looking at the redevelopment potential over a very long time period,” she said.

Bend City Councilor Victor Chudowsky said the real question is whether or not an area will be able to redevelop on its own, or if it will need urban renewal dollars to incentivize development.

Eagan said the creation of the urban renewal areas could impact the general fund. She said it might make more sense to only have one. Councilors decided to proceed with an analysis of all three areas from a consultant.

“I wouldn’t’ want to truncate the consultant’s consideration in any way right now,” said Bend City Councilor Doug Knight said.

Mayor Jim Clinton said if one urban renewal area needed to be selected, he suggested proceeding with the Third Street area. However, Eagan said she expects the Third Street area will cost the most.

“Third Street is the golden opportunity for Bend to urbanize,” Clinton said. “The others ones will happen … because of the private market. Third Street needs work.”

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