• Lean Code

Planning a New Future

Tigard Triangle

Lean Code Phase II Adopted
The Tigard City Council voted unanimously on December 12, 2017 to rezone most of the land in the Triangle in a move to accelerate pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use development. The rezoning of this nearly 500-acre area will make it easier for property owners to develop their land. It will also help transform the Triangle into a district with far more housing and small businesses than currently exists. Development of this area with a wide range of uses is critical to Tigard achieving its vision to be a healthy, walkable, and interconnected city.

The rezoning of the Triangle complements an innovative development code adopted earlier this year in August 2017, known as the Tigard Triangle Lean Code. The zone change and new code are effective as of December 14, 2017. Click on the links below for more information:

In addition to the rezone, City Council also adopted changes to the types of signs that are allowed in Downtown Tigard and the Triangle. Since pedestrian-oriented areas have different signage needs than auto-oriented areas, a new set of sign regulations was developed to support the kind of development envisioned in Downtown Tigard and the Triangle. Prior to these changes, both areas had the same sign regulations as the businesses along Pacific Highway. Click on the links below for more information:

About the Tigard Triangle
The Tigard Triangle is located in the northeast corner of the city, just east of Downtown Tigard. At about 500 acres, it is roughly two and a half times the size of Downtown Tigard. Its name comes from the shape that is created by the freeways that surround it. It is bounded by Interstate 5 to the east, Highway 217 to the southwest, and Highway 99W (Pacific Highway) to the north forming a triangle.

The Tigard Triangle is full of potential, but it has been in development limbo since the mid-1990’s. Despite its central location, the Triangle has limited access to the freeways that surround it. It lacks basic infrastructure like sewers, sidewalks, roads, and parks. Not surprisingly, it has a low walking score and is economically underperforming. It has the ability to support future growth, but it needs to overcome its existing development barriers first.

The Community’s Vision
In 2013 the city set out to produce a plan for the Triangle that identified the community’s vision and the barriers to achieving that vision. With extensive input by the community, the city completed the Tigard Triangle Strategic Plan in 2015. 

Triangle BarriersThe Strategic Plan identified several persistent barriers to the community’s vision:

  • Lack of walkability
  • Lack of housing
  • Lack of neighborhood uses/services 
  • Vacant lots
  • Flooding
  • Traffic congestion
  • Broken sewer lines
  • Zoning and development code issues

In addition to rezoning the area and adopting a new innovative development code to address zoning and development issues, the city is working to remove the remaining development barriers. See CURRENT PROJECTS below for more information.

Current Projects

Urban Renewal Implementation
The city was awarded a Metro grant in November 2017 to implement the recently adopted Tigard Triangle Urban Renewal Plan. The goal of the project is to develop a plan for strategic public investment that supports and catalyzes equitable development in the Triangle including, but not limited to, housing for people with a range of incomes and employment options for a workforce with a range of skills. A new urban renewal area in the Triangle and a proposed light rail alignment through the Triangle has caught the attention of property owners, investors, and developers. In order to make strategic investments that align with local and regional goals ahead of market-moving activities, the city will be developing an implementation plan to guide near-term urban renewal investments that optimizes public and private investment, facilitates equitable development, and advances the community’s vision for the area. 

Urban Renewal
Urban renewal is a powerful funding tool that can be used to help build innovative projects and fill infrastructure gaps (e.g. sidewalks, streets, sewer, parks, trails). Voters approved the formation of the Tigard Triangle Urban Renewal Area and adopted the Tigard Triangle Urban Renewal Plan in May 2017. The area consists of about 550 acres. It includes properties west of Interstate 5, east of Highway 217, and just north of Highway 99.

Over the life of the plan, revenue generated by property taxes within the area will be spent on projects to improve walkability, create more employment and housing opportunities, and address a variety of transportation issues.

Tigard Triangle Location MapUrban renewal is not a quick fix. It takes years to generate funds to build and repair infrastructure. Implementing the plan is expected to take about 35 years. The maximum amount of money that can be spent on projects over the life of the plan is $188 million. Learn more about how urban renewal works.

What Kinds of Projects Will Urban Renewal Fund?
• New streets and sidewalks
• Workforce housing
• New trails and parks
• Red Rock Creek restoration
• Small business support
• Major sewer line repairs
• Intersection improvements

Why is Urban Renewal Needed?
Urban renewal is needed to fix infrastructure deficiencies and support catalytic development in the Triangle since the type of development desired by the community (and allowed by zoning) is not supported by market conditions. Urban renewal, and the funding it brings, can help get pioneering projects off the ground with incentives, partnerships, and financial or technical assistance. It can help change the market conditions in the Triangle to align with the community’s vision.

Urban renewal also signals to the development community that the city is committed to the area. In emerging mixed-use areas, private investment typically follows this kind of public commitment.

Lastly, the Triangle meets the legal definition for blight, which is a requirement for forming an urban renewal area. Blighted areas generally have old or deteriorated buildings, failing or inadequate utilities, incomplete streets, or other obstacles to development. The Triangle meets the definition for blight due to its many infrastructure deficiencies and number of vacant and underdeveloped lots.

What Are the Benefits of Urban Renewal?   

  • Improves Tigard’s long-term financial health
    By bringing new businesses into the Triangle, urban renewal increases Tigard’s tax base over time which, in turn, helps fund future city services for all Tigard residents. 
  • Provides a stable funding source
    By creating a stable long-term funding source (without creating a new tax), the city can build or fix infrastructure that it may otherwise delay or never be able to afford
  • Steers investment toward an area ready for change
    By focusing on the Triangle, which is already zoned for commercial and residential density, urban renewal steers investments toward an area of the city that is the most ready for change. 
  • Furthers Tigard’s walkability goal
    By changing the character of the Triangle from an auto-oriented district with suburban offices and big-box stores into a pedestrian-oriented district with a diverse mix of destinations and activities, urban renewal can help further the city’s goal of becoming a more walkable, interconnected and healthy community.
  • Supports travel by alternate modes
    By fostering the creation of a complete community—one which has jobs, housing, services, and transit—urban renewal can make travel by alternate modes (travel by foot, bike, or transit) more possible and desirable. This could alleviate traffic congestion or, at the very least, not contribute to it allowing the city to reap the benefits of growth without some of the impacts of growth. 

Completed Projects

Lean Code
The city adopted the Tigard Triangle Lean Code in August 2017. It went into effect in December 2017 when most of the land in the Triangle was rezoned to the new Triangle Mixed-Use (TMU) zone. The goal of the new code is to spur development in the Triangle by reducing regulations in ways that support the community’s vision.

The new code is designed to:

  • Focus on increasing connectivity and walkability
  • Be easier to understand
  • Be more flexible and allow a wide mix of uses
  • Streamline the permit review and approval process
  • Encourage business start-ups and entrepreneurs
  • Respect existing development

In order to rezone the Triangle, the city had to conduct an area-wide traffic study and satisfy state transportation requirements related to the Transportation Planning Rule (TPR). Learn more about the city’s TPR Traffic Analysis.

Streetscape Design
The design of a street plays a significant role in how a place functions and feels whether you are traveling by car, wheelchair, foot, or bike. The design of the buildings that frame the street are regulated by the development code, and a Streetscape Design Plan serves a similar role for the public realm that exists between buildings.

The city successfully competed for a Community Planning & Development Grant (CPDG) award from Metro in 2016, and a portion of these funds were used to develop a Streetscape Design Plan for the Triangle. The Tigard Triangle Strategic Plan provides a vision for how these streets should look and function, and this effort built off that vision and provides more specific design direction.

Walkability Evaluation
In early 2016, the city hosted a 4-person graduate student team from Portland State University and contracted with State of Place, an urban form analytics firm, to identify urban design features that could enhance walkability and maximize economic value in the Tigard Triangle. More information about this work can be found on the Value of Place webpage.

The State of Place Walkability Evaluation found that the area currently has a walking score of 33 out of 100—a low but unsurprising number. In comparison, Downtown Tigard scored 66. 

Changing building design and diversifying the types of businesses would improve this score, but are largely out of the city’s control. Fortunately, the analysis also indicates the features that the city can affect and that would have a significant impact on our low walking score. The graphic below shows which urban features the city could focus on that would improve the Triangle’s score, are in keeping with the community’s vision, and are within the city’s control. With this in mind, we are excited to consider ways to improve pedestrian amenities, traffic safety, and overall aesthetics in the Triangle and to apply this analysis to the types of projects that could be funded by urban renewal.

Tigard Triangle graph

Tigard Triangle Strategic Plan
The Tigard Triangle Strategic Plan was completed in 2015 and includes the community vision’s for the area. Community members, including residents and business owners, envision development that builds on the area’s existing unique and natural features and includes the following elements:  


  • A diverse mix of uses, including housing and businesses to support those who live and work in the area.
  • Improved connectivity for cars, bikes, and pedestrians within the area and to neighboring areas.
  • An enjoyable and safe walking environment with shorter blocks, pedestrian friendly buildings, and pathways between developments.
  • Parks, open spaces, and community gathering places that takes advantage of the areas trees, creeks and natural landscapes.
  • Enhancement and protection of the natural amenities, including restoration of Red Rock Creek as a defining feature for the area.

Construction Projects

  • Dartmouth Overlook in the Tigard Triangle: The Dartmouth Overlook is located at the corner of SW 68th and Dartmouth, and is part of Tigard’s Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper projects initiative. Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper projects are inexpensive and impactful actions that improve walkability, connectivity and health in Tigard. This hillside overlook, on city right-of-way, captures the view over the Tigard Triangle and west to the Chehalem Mountains. The centerpiece of the overlook is a short paved trail and four basalt blocks quarried from Camas Washington that create a seating area for visitors. The space was created by Tigard’s Public Works Department with input from a team of city planners.
  • Haines/Atlanta Street Sidewalk Gap Improvement: The City of Tigard poured a new section of sidewalk at Haines/Atlanta Street, to fill a gap between 68th Ave and the I-5 bridge. This Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper project moves the city one step closer to achieving its goal of a more walkable, interconnected, and healthy community. Read about more projects on the city’s Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper Projects page.

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Susan P. Shanks
Senior Planner

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