Meeting to discuss current land development trends in Happy Valley, Oregon

Development planning meeting at Happy Valley, Oregon

We were happy to attend a city planning meeting jointly organized by the City of Happy Valley and Amerivest Realty. The goal of the meeting was to share information on “What’s trending in Happy Valley”. It was presented by veteran planner, Michael Walter, followed by a reception at Amerivest Realty presented by Bill Hof.

Bill Hof, the Principal Broker at Amerivest welcomed everyone in the auditorium. Then Michael Walter took the lead. Here is a recap of some the information he shared:

  • Anti-expansion: Interestingly enough, back in the 60s and 70s, Happy Valley’s reputation was one of anti-expansion. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s, Happy Valley fought development “tooth and nail”. It’s interesting to look back on this, considering that Happy Valley today is one of the fastest growing cities in the metropolitan area, with city limits changing as often as every 3 months.
  • Plans for growth: Michael described the boundaries to where Happy Valley would ultimately grow. Happy Valley will eventually grow to the following boundaries:
    • North to the City of Portland.
    • South to the Clackamas River.
    • West to I-205
    • He pointed out that the eastern boundaries was somewhat in flux, given the current situation with the City of Damascus having ongoing challenges getting a Comprehensive Plan passed by the voters (but that’s a different blog article all together!).
  • The City’s role in growth: Michael spent some time clarifying the role of the City as it continues to expand. The City, in conjunction with other State authorities, is responsible for determining “guidelines” for development (zoning, street plans,etc.). However, it is the developers who take the various City ordinances and propose what to build within those guidelines. Michael reiterated that the City does not what will be built and when, but rather the market decided that.
  • Commercial Development: Michael spent a few minutes speaking of commercial development in Happy Valley, notably the plan to build a Fred Meyers shopping center at the corner of Sunnyside Rd and SE 172nd. He commented that commercial development “follows the rooftops” – as more homes are built, commercial development becomes more viable.
  • Infrastructure: Michael commented on a common misconception, which is that the City is responsible for public improvements, such as roads and street lights. He clarified that such infrastructural improvements were the responsibility of the developer for any given piece of property. As an example, the construction budget for the Fred Meyer site is approximately $80 million for a $30 million Fred Meyer. Much of the $80 million construction budget would go to building street improvements and traffic intersections around the Fred Meyer site. These costs, he reminded us, will be bore by the developer, not the City.
  • Tax rates: The need for public improvements to be driven and paid for by developers becomes apparent when one considers that Happy Valley currently has the second lowest municipal tax rate in Oregon. Tax money collected from Happy Valley residents does not allow for the types of big budget improvements that we see in development projects. So as a developer, if you want to build it, you have to pay for it.

Overall, the meeting was informative, especially for anyone who was not familiar with the development process. If you would like to learn more about the development timeline, feel free to visit our Land Development Timeline page.

If you were at the event and would like to share any of the points you took away from the meeting, feel free to leave a comment below.

If you have any questions regarding land development, or if you have property that you would like some feedback on, feel free to contact us.

  1. I was there too! I’m a longtime resident of Happy Valley and I was particularly interested in getting info on the Fred Meyer project.

  2. Thank you for your comment Shawna, exciting things are happening in Happy Valley!