Announcing our initiative to encourage mixed-use development in Bend’s Central District

We are following up on our successful advocacy in the Bend Urban Growth Boundary planning process by advocating for the “BCD Initiative” to implement a key component of that Plan. The BCD Initiative will be featured at City Club of Central Oregon’s forum, “Bend’s Central District: What Will Future Urban Density Look Like in the Center of Our City?” on Thursday, August 17th, 2017.

Sculpture at Hawthorne Transit Station, in the Bend Central District

Sculpture at Hawthorne Transit Station, in the Bend Central District

The Bend Central District (BCD) is the area east of downtown bounded roughly by Revere Avenue on the north, 4th Street on the east, and the railroad on the south and west sides. It has long been identified in the City of Bend’s plans to transition from mostly industrial uses to a more urban neighborhood, and it is uniquely positioned to distribute the load of future growth. LandWatch’s initiative seeks to build momentum and support for the district’s transformation into a vibrant and healthy mixed-use community with safe connections between east and west Bend.

This summer, the BCD Initiative brought together a group of technical advisors, including planners, transportation engineers, urban designers, and architects to identify barriers and opportunities for achieving the community vision in the Bend Central District. The group is exploring how this area could maximize opportunities for a walkable, bikeable community and encourage movement toward compact, transit-oriented land-uses with designs for complete streets and other transportation networks to open the flow of community across town.

“The Bend Central District has historically been a place for hardworking individuals with strong ties to the industries that built Bend, and now you have the Maker’s District which is bringing some new creative and artistic life to the area,” said Moey Newbold, who is coordinating the BCD Initiative for LandWatch. “But even though the BCD is right in the center of our city, right now it inhibits the flow of people between east and west Bend.”

One of the first barriers identified by the advisory group is the district’s poor pedestrian environment. Where sidewalks exist, they are incomplete and end abruptly. In many cases, pedestrians are forced onto the road next to cars. There are few street trees, no public spaces, lighting, or wayfinding signs. The Franklin Avenue undercrossing is particularly challenging because to get from the east side to downtown, pedestrians and bikers must traverse an unwelcoming and unsafe tunnel under the parkway and the railroad.

With few residents and a lot of under developed land in the center of Bend, it is no wonder the Bend Central District was identified as an Opportunity Area in the 2016 Urban Growth Boundary plan. The city has further laid the groundwork for redevelopment through a zone change from Industrial Light to Mixed Employment and by implementing an overlay code that encourages developers to build mixed-use buildings with street frontages. Now, the BCD Initiative is looking to encourage somebody to take the next step.

LandWatch’s Moey Newbold will be a panelist at the City Club of Central Oregon’s forum on this topic held at the Riverhouse Convention Center on Thursday, August 17, 2017.