Orenco Station Mixed-Use Development - Hillsboro, OR
FAST FACTS ABOUT: Orenco Station - Hillsboro, OR
Types of TDM: Mode Choice, Location Choice
Keywords: light rail, transit-oriented design, housing, zoning, community design
Area Demographics: Master-planned community at Orenco Station proximate to Tri-Met Westside MAX light rail within metropolitan Portland, Oregon.
Program: Transit-oriented development featuring a varied housing selection and pedestrian-friendly amenities. Free transit passes are offered to all new tenants for one year.
Results: 53% increase in transit usage after Westside light rail opened. Reduced need to travel outside of immediate community for discretionary trips.
The developers of Orenco Station call it America’s most awarded new community. As the winner of the National Association of Homebuilders Master Planned Community of the Year (1999), there are many good reasons why. The 206-acre, transit-oriented development has many planning and design features that make it one of the most livable new communities in the U.S. Located on the Westside Light Rail line outside of Portland, Oregon, Orenco Station is a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use development with all the fundamental features of a successful neo-traditional community including a menu of housing choices, a town center with a main street corridor, ample park and recreation amenities and a variety of transportation options including light rail.
Although the Orenco Station site was originally zoned for industrial use and later for subdivision housing, the site was ultimately designated as a “town center” in the Portland Metro Area 2040 Plan. The Plan specifies legally binding requirements for all Westside station areas, and mandates features such a minimum densities and residential density targets at varying distances from light-rail stops, mixed-use development in station areas, pedestrian oriented buildings, prohibitions on auto-oriented land uses, and reduced parking. A special zoning ordinance was customized for Orenco Station establishing design guidelines to allow for and ensure an urban mix of housing types and land uses not typically found in the suburbs.
Demand Management by Community Design
One of the benefits of being a transit-oriented development is the provision of transportation alternatives. The community was designed to be a “complete community”, meaning residents could work, shop, recreate and live within it, thereby reducing the need for travel outside of it. Orenco residents are located within a quarter mile radius of groceries, restaurants, and professional services.
The other defining transportation feature is the development of pedestrian pathways, and open space that all culminate at the Orenco Station stop of the Tri-Met Westside MAX light-rail line. This region-wide light rail system is one of the key features of the Portland region’s livability. Orenco residents may walk to the station and have access via light rail to downtown Portland, the Portland International Airport, Hillsboro’s high technology industrial center and other parts of the metropolitan region. The development team consciously biased towards pedestrians to encourage walking to transit and local commercial development and to encourage a more community-oriented life style.
The community was designed to be a “complete
community,” meaning residents could work, shop, recreate and live
within it, thereby reducing the need to travel outside of it.
The town center is situated near Cornell Road, an existing major arterial road a quarter mile north of the station that bisects the entire development. The town center buildings provide for neighborhood retail and offices uses with generous adjacent pedestrian facilities. In addition, a new grocery store and retail kitchen store will be opening in the fall of 2003. Housing units are also located above the retail spaces.
Several design features were employed in the residential areas to reinforce the pedestrian- and community-orientation of Orenco Station. Residential streets within Orenco generally allow for parking on one side with widths held to 25 feet. To further reduce the impact of automobiles, Orenco’s site design provides alley-accessed parking, thereby eliminating front garages, curb cuts, and driveways.
The community was designed to provide a variety of housing options, all of which are made for compact development: single-family homes, townhouses, accessory units, loft units, and apartments. The single family detached units are relatively small, ranging from 1,400 to 1,700 square feet; but all units have a dedicated home-office space and features to reduce the amount of commuting in the community. Unlike more traditional subdivisions, the three- and four-unit townhouse structures are integrated with single-family detached housing. The loft units have many of the architectural features of single family homes. Apartments and lower price condominiums are also available in the development to offer more affordable options. All residential unit sales have been strong since the beginning.
At Orenco, all new tenants are provided free transit passes for one year with other tenant marketing materials. Intel and other large employers adjacent to Orenco provide transit passes through an arrangement with Tri-Met.
A special zoning ordinance was customized
for Orenco Station establishing design guidelines to allow for and ensure
an urban mix of housing types and land uses not typically found in the
Measures of Effectiveness
The planning and design of Orenco have been noticed by community residents and is reflected in their attitudes and behaviors. A Pilot TOD Pass Program was implemented in September 1998 to test the effectiveness of transit pass incentives. Under the program, new tenants were provided free transit passes with other tenant marketing materials. Some key findings include:
• Whereas only 30% of respondents reported using transit prior to the Westside MAX opening, 83% reported that they used transit in May 1999 (after the opening).
• From September 1998 to May 1999, transit use for commuting purposes increased 22%.
Although the Pilot program has expired, all new residents continue to receive free 1-year passes.
According to a recent Lewis and Clark College study, transportation practices were also affected by the design and planning of the Orenco community. The study suggests:
• 70% of those surveyed shop in the Town Center at least once a week.
• 85% of respondents stated that the close proximity of neighborhood businesses and amenities has reduced the need to drive elsewhere to purchase necessities or for entertainment.