With the much celebrated, long-awaited Universal Plaza opening this month, Tigard announced plans for a new gathering space to add one more bead in what city leaders envision as a “string of pearls” along Main Street.
City Council unanimously approved a $430,737 contract with Portland-based 2.Ink Studio for the design and engineering of Nick Wilson Memorial Plaza in what planners characterize as a “complicated space” adjacent to Cooper Mountain Ale Works overlooking Fanno Creek at 12562 SW Main Street.
Early renderings show a show a long, narrow plaza from Main Street between the creek and the brewery to the new trailhead. Though the concept is far from finalized, the idea incorporates seating, a viewing area, and educational installations detailing the natural area and watershed.
“It’s going to be a fairly long project,” Tigard redevelopment manager Sean Farrelly said. “It’s a complex site. A lot of natural resources considerations have to be taken into account.”
He estimates 28 months of construction beginning in early 2025. Initial planning began nearly a decade ago and the city has already acquired land from the brewery and neighboring Main Street Village to make space for the plaza and widen a driveway to Cooper Mountain Ale’s rear parking lot.
The plaza’s namesake, a former City Councilor who also spent time on the planning commission, helped conceptualize Tigard’s vision for public space and completed a feasibility study for the project in 2014.
Wilson, who served the city for 18 years, died unexpectedly in his sleep in 2020. He was 61.
Wilson’s former office above what was then Max’s Fanno Creek Brew Pub overlooked a driveway that will be converted to create the 6,000-square-foot plaza and trail connector.
“We’re constantly thinking about how to support the (Main Street) businesses and how to make that walking environment as good as it can possibly be,” said Community Development Director Kenny Asher.
“That location (the intersection of Main Street and Fanno Creek) is the 100 percent corner of the whole city – the most important natural feature and the most important street historically. What we’re always trying to do is give everybody as much access to that experience as we possibly can.”
The intersection has one small plaza next to Curiosities and another in the works across Main Street on the site of the currently under construction Ava Roasteria. The eventual addition of Nick Wilson will mean three of the four corners have gathering spaces.
Though building on the site is complicated by the watershed, parking, business access, and proximity to Main Street, planners see the park as an important addition to the overall redevelopment vision.
“Over the years we have been trying to create plazas, little spaces for the community to gather,” Asher said, citing the exiting Rotary Plaza, the area in front of the old bank building, and the space beside Curiosities as the start. “We called it a ‘String of Pearls’ concept, which was that Main Street would never have a grand plaza, that would be Universal Plaza just a little ways away, but on the street itself there would be a number of places where you could stop and experience Main Street without having to be walking or hanging out in front of somebody’s business.”
The initial funding covers design and engineering. Another round of funding will be considered in the 2024 budget when the design is approved and a cost estimate can be calculated.