The city of Roseburg’s plan to create an Urban Renewal District on the east side of town generally seems like a good idea.
Still, it begs the question: If we build up the infrastructure, will the developers — of desperately needed housing and job-creating businesses — come?
We can only hope that 30 years of urban renewal will do for the east side what the past 30 years of urban renewal did for much of the rest of town. The past three decades have seen a lot of growth along Garden Valley Boulevard and Stewart Parkway, with some improvements to downtown. All areas covered by the urban renewal district set to expire in 2019.
By contrast, the Diamond Lake Boulevard area has remained underdeveloped, and some parts of it an eyesore, for a long time.
It’s sad to think that tourists returning from Crater Lake enter Roseburg from that end of town. It’s likely many are inspired by the sight to hurry out of town as quickly as possible. It’s discouraging to think how much space is available along Diamond Lake Boulevard that just isn’t being used to its highest purpose now, while many community residents struggle to find a place to live or a good job.
A renewal area could help change all that. It could mean improved roads, wetlands mitigation, blight elimination and streetscaping that make the area attractive and ready for developers. Between $14 and $28 million could be spent. It’s done without raising any new taxes, just by borrowing against the increase in future tax revenues that’s expected to arise naturally from the increase in property values over time.
We hope that the city keeps all these things in mind as the area develops, and that it continues to make choices that will encourage businesses to locate there and developers to create attractive, high quality affordable housing there.
While we’re at it, let’s not forget to increase livability and marketability by including attractive and functional spaces where people can sit, stroll and bicycle.
We hope to see great things in coming years on the east side of town.