Universal Plaza: Tigard’s Newest Park

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Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting Ceremony set for April 15

At long last, the City of Tigard is excited to officially say, “Welcome to Universal Plaza!”

Visitors to the Universal Plaza will immediately notice the giant, colorfully painted porch swings.
Visitors to the Universal Plaza will immediately notice the giant, colorfully painted porch swings.

The city’s new living room, space for everyone, years-in-the-making downtown park opens April 15, with marching band fanfare, loads of family fun, delicious eats, and a spray of sparkle from the Plaza’s crown jewel splash pad.

Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting festivities kick off at 11 a.m. with tunes from the Tigard High School Marching Band, followed by a ribbon cutting with Mayor Heidi Lueb and a few words from the city officials who helped make this first phase of the Plaza a reality, followed by hours of activities, entertainment, and music in a teaser of what’s to come.

The $5.6 million transformation of 9100 SW Burnham St. fulfills a decades-long vision for a downtown gathering space where the community can relax, play, and hang out, and links the city to surrounding nature with a beautiful boardwalk connection to Fanno Creek Trail.

The granite and concrete-bottomed fountain and splash pad doubles as a gorgeous art piece when the fountain is dry.
The granite and concrete-bottomed fountain and splash pad doubles as a gorgeous art piece when the fountain is dry.

“Universal Plaza is a place for everyone – a community gathering spot in the heart of downtown that celebrates our shared humanity, and our one shared planet,” said Tigard Community Engagement Coordinator Judi Martin.

“Universal Plaza really is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide a signature public space in downtown that will attract residents of all ages.” – Sean Farrelly, Tigard’s Redevelopment Manager.

City officials and designers worked closely with the community,  gathering input and ideas through a series of online and in-person interactive events to design a one-of-a-kind showpiece park for revitalizing downtown.

The result is a two-acre Plaza featuring a gorgeous granite and concrete-bottomed fountain and splash pad, a line of front porch swings along SW Burnham, a beautiful, elevated boardwalk that curves its way from the back of the park and over wetlands to Fanno Creek Trail, food carts, plentiful bike racks, and space for hosting the Tigard Farmers Market.

Opening day promises a good sampling of what’s in store this Spring, Summer, and for decades to come. The public is invited to come out and help celebrate!

Grand Opening Schedule and Festivities:

DJ Gustavo, with Momotombo Soundsystem, will be providing musical entertainment during the Grand Opening Ceremony.
DJ Gustavo, with Momotombo Soundsystem, will be providing musical entertainment during the Grand Opening Ceremony.

The day of family-friendly fun will feature Olive and Dingo – the Peoples Clowns, Giant Bubbles– Portland’s best Bubble Show, the Tigard High School Marching Band, a DJ, a small sampling of Tigard Farmers Market booths, and the Plaza’s two resident food carts: West Coast Torta and Harvest Moon Experience. (If you missed last month’s article on Tigard’s Food Cart Launch Pods, visit tinyurl.com/mpjssvkf)

11 a.m.: Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

11:30 – 2:30:  Explore the Plaza and enjoy food, entertainment, and a sampling of farmers market booths.  

Fun Facts:

Convergence

A water feature and splash pad was the Plaza’s most requested element. This fully programmable fountain sprays reticulated water and is equipped with sensors to automatically change water pressure to match immediate weather conditions and use. Built-in lighting transforms the water into a bouquet of bright colors when the sun goes down. When the fountain is dry, the specialty concrete and granite floor turns the Plaza floor into a beautiful central art piece.

West Coast Torta and Harvest Moon Experience:

Olive and Dingo -  The “People’s Clowns.”
Olive and Dingo – The “People’s Clowns.”

The Plaza’s two resident food carts, are the first participants in a new city-sponsored business accelerator. The Launch Pod program provides both delicious start-ups with fully equipped food trucks at a reduced rate and business mentoring to help them thrive as they grow. They were chosen from 28 hopefuls in a rigorous application process. 

West Coast Torta

West Coast Torta specializes in hot Mexican sandwiches stuffed with fillings traditionally wrapped in burritos or tacos, plus rice bowls, and house-made chips and salsa pulled from the owners Joshua and Alfredo Carreon’s childhood.

Harvest Moon Experience

The Plaza’s two resident food carts will be operated by Harvest Moon Experience and West Coast Torta.
The Plaza’s two resident food carts will be operated by Harvest Moon Experience and West Coast Torta.

Harvest Moon Experience features seasonal comfort foods with a menu anchored by charcuterie. Owner Juliana Moseley also plans to grill PB&J and spotlight a rotating array of seasonal specials.

Tigard Farmers Market

helped inspire the design. The Plaza is laid out with plenty of room for about 45 vendors, officially becoming the new home of the seasonal Sunday market this Spring. The 2023 Farmers Market season kicks off May 7.

Front Porch Swings 

“The front half of the site is literally designed to be a kind of front porch, which is why the swings are there [along SW Burnham Street],” community development director Kenny Asher. “It’s all about discovering this exciting place from the street and being pulled in.” 

What’s in a name?

Giant Bubbles - Portland’s best Bubble Show!
Giant Bubbles – Portland’s best Bubble Show!

Everything from the way Universal Plaza transitions from a busier-feeling urban hang-out space and park to a more contemplative place where nature flows seamlessly into the city was layered with thought and intention. The names “Universal Plaza” and “Convergence” are no exception.

Convergence, the Plaza splash pad, calls to the way Universal Plaza merges the city and the Fanno Creek area like two rivers converging into one, a literal convergence. “Because the Plaza opens up to Fanno Creek, it’s almost like you’re standing in a natural area,” Asher says. “That natural area just kind of flows right into the plaza site. That’s an idea that’s been in lots of plans in Tigard for decades.”  

Universal Plaza is a nod to Tigard’s guiding vision – to be walkable, healthy, welcoming, and inclusive to all – and a wink at our place in the wider world. “It’s a place to appreciate the four natural elements that comprise our world, our universe: water, air, earth, and fire,” Asher explained. “The natural elements sustain us and make this place so phenomenal. It’s an incredible place that we live, in Tigard and in Oregon.”

TRANSIT & PARKING:

Universal Plaza is located at 9100 SW Burnham St. in Tigard

Parking is limited. Walking, biking and public transit are encouraged! The Tigard downtown Main Street area is also served by TriMet lines 12, 45, 64, 76, 78, 94.

For more information, please visit www.tigard-or.gov/Universal-Plaza

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