Changing Landscape of Central Oregon


(Photo above | Courtesy of Deschutes County)

The landscape of Central Oregon is changing dramatically amidst our sister cities. This round-up of the area highlights the issues, challenges and opportunities facing the budgets and citizenry as presented by city managers to the Central Oregon Association of Realtors’ Key Convention. According to the city manager, each area must work with its unique mix: pace of growth, competing community needs, availability of infrastructure while maximizing opportunities for land and infill areas to build complete communities while incorporating community values and leveraging public/private partnerships.
It is important to realize that in Deschutes County, the majority of the land that surrounds us is Federally owned land (76.5 percent or 2267 square miles), followed by land that is within the County jurisdiction (18.4 percent or 550 square miles, State/Deschutes County owned land (3.5 percent or 103 square miles) and incorporated cities (1.6 percent or 50 square miles), according to Tom Anderson, county administrator, Deschutes County.
“Growth pressure also affects unincorporated land within Deschutes County, although the challenges to be addressed are different from cities,” offers Anderson. “More than 50,000 citizens currently reside in the rural county, although most of them are on legacy parcels that were created prior to the Oregon Land Use System in the 1970s.
“That same land use system greatly restricts the county’s ability to create new lots to help with affordable housing solutions. The state views Exclusive Farm Use (EFU) zoned land the same, whether you’re talking about fertile land in the Willamette Valley, or rock and sagebrush in Central Oregon. Deschutes County will continue to seek assistance from the state legislature and land use agencies to recognize this difference and create housing opportunities where feasible.”
Forecasts show Bend’s population around 109,000 by 2025, and 120,000 by 2030. The City of Bend’s recently adopted UGB Boundary and Opportunity Areas amount to 2,380 total acres — of which 1,142 acres is residential land (including future schools and parks), 815 acres is employment land , 285 acres is for public facilities in district ownership and 138 acres of which is existing right-of-way.
Its chief concerns and focus revolve around creating affordable and diverse housing, in addition to financing the costs associated with building infrastructure for roads, sewer and transportation to accommodate its growing population.
“Bend is the third fastest growing city in the country and is attracting a lot of attention,” explains Eric King, City Manager, City of Bend. “We have worked diligently over the past few years to solidify a growth plan with the expansion of the UGB. Our efforts now turn from planning to execution of infrastructure projects to accommodate this new growth while preserving Bend’s small town character.”
With La Pine being the newest city in Oregon, incorporated in 2006 , it covers seven square miles, with a 50-year land supply. Its present population of 1,700 is within City limits and La Pine serves as hub for 15,000+ in south county. It is primed for industrial, commercial and residential growth as compared to the rest of Central Oregon, in that it offers lower System Development Charges (SDCs) — only water and sewer SDCs: $7,105 per equivalent dwelling unit — with no transportation, stormwater or park SDCs.
Many of its public or private industrial lots for sale ranging from .21 acres to 38.73 acres have curbside water, sewer and power. In addition, the city owned lots offer Incentivized pricing for capital investment and job creation.
According to Cory Misley, city manager of La Pine, projects with public investment include First Street Signalization and Streetscape Enhancement, Wickiup Junction Overpass, $25 million Investment in Water and Sewer Infrastructure,
Beautification — Downtown Redevelopment — Urban Renewal, Transit Center Development and Downtown Parking, Downtown Codes and Streetscape Design and Housing Works’ 42-Unit Affordable Housing Project.
La Pine’s private investment benchmarks include Mid Oregon Credit Union, Grocery Outlet / Dollar Tree, La Pine Community Health Center Expansion and St. Charles Medical Clinic.
Madras’ business growth, infrastructure and housing has substantial development activity in progress including St. Charles Madras Expansion & Renovation, Grocery Outlet, Bright Wood Corp, Madras Physical Therapy and Keith Manufacturing.
Presently, the Madras Mountain View trail is the second shortest Scenic Bikeway of the State’s 11 designated sites and is one of the least congested and most scenic routes you will find in Central Oregon. Current developments include Daimler Trucks North America test facility, the Indian Head Travel Center and the next paved bicycle and pedestrian trail segment connecting the Jefferson County Fairgrounds to the Willow Creek Trail System heading to Lake Simtustus.
According to Gus Burril, city administrator, City of Madras their UGB expansion efforts include building upon Erickson Aircraft Collection’s headquarters’ tourism interest and expanding around its 1,175 acres of additional airport area management property that is actively being developed with significant available foot prints for small or large developments along with promoting a Housing Strategy plan to identify ways to improve regulatory and procedural process to encourage and assist new development. Madras’ Urban Renewal District has readied funding to help retail development.
“We are very thankful for economic times improving with businesses expanding and new businesses moving into our community,” said Burril. “Additionally, we are excited to be one of the premiere viewing sites for the Solar Eclipse in August. Madras wants people to know that we have plenty of spaces that can be reserved ahead of time to come and view this special event. For more information on this event and accommodations, visit We look forward to sharing a great experience with people from all over the world. What a great marketing opportunity for all of Central Oregon to show visitors why we think it is a beautiful place to work, live and play.”
Prineville should be called Primeville. In addition to increasing their housing inventory with $15 million in single-family dwellings, $10 million in multifamily developments and an additional $4 million in 100/160 temporary worker housing/RV sites to accommodate Facebook’s growing staff, the City of Prineville has these projects completed or in the works: City Wetlands Complex/Park, Prineville Railroad as the Gateway of Central Oregon, a recent 460-acre City Land purchase, repurposing the past Prineville Memorial Hospital for new Lutheran Community Services North West (LCSNW) building, new Barnes Butte School to serve 750 students, new St. Charles Hospital, the approval for the 30 space Kryptos RV park, the 74 bed County Jail, 29 Affordable Housing units, the Third Facebook Data Center building, the USFS HeliBase, the Hwy. 26/Tom McCall Rd. roundabout and Solar Farming sites.
“The city continues to strategically plan and develop city infrastructure, economic diversification and quality of life attributes, all while keeping Prineville’s rural cultural appeal,” says Steve Forrester, city manager, City of Prineville.
With Redmond, changes are also happening at supersonic speeds. The Airport, despite a twenty-one day closure for runway reconstruction, experienced a record 699,000 passengers and a 14% increase in growth this past year. Over 1,000 housing units/masterplans have been approved and are being developed for the $235,000 to $350,000 price range.
Downtown revitalization efforts are on-going and have resulted in a burgeoning dinning district. Retail space downtown space is 65 to 75 cents per square foot and industrial space is selling for $3 to $5 per square foot. With infrastructure, the City of Redmond is at 63 percent to 75 percent of its water capacity and 60 percent to 75 percent of its plants/interceptor’s capacity.
“In the commercial core, the City is leveraging millions in public funding to attract private investment to rent downtown space,” states Chuck Arnold, Redmond Urban Renewal Program Manager.


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Ginny Kansas Meszaros

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