Commercial Controversy | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Commercial Controversy

Residents at Petrosa were promised a "complete community." Now, they learn it could take years.

click to enlarge Commercial Controversy
Julianna LaFollette

In 2016, the City of Bend expanded the Urban Growth Boundary, which included an area in northeast Bend aimed at creating a new, complete community. Petrosa, a Pahlisch community, was master planned to include a mix of residential and commercial uses. While the residential portion of this neighborhood is underway, community members are still waiting for the planned commercial development to follow suit, creating a more convenient neighborhood.

Located at the intersection of NE Butler Market and Deschutes Market roads sits an area of land designated for commercial development in the Petrosa Master Plan, per the City of Bend Development Code 2.7.3900. The Markets at Petrosa is planned to offer space for a variety of businesses, including retail, health and wellness, professional and medical.

According to a Markets at Petrosa information packet, "The location of the project will create a retail and rooftop synergy that will make the NE quadrant one of Bend's most desirable and sought-after areas."

After years of construction on homes and other neighborhood amenities, including a 4-acre central park, a private pool, fitness facilities and a community clubhouse, the area designated for commercial developments is still awaiting construction. The land is currently for sale.

"The commercial-zoned parcels have been for sale for years while we look for the right specialized commercial developer to build the area to its highest and best use," said Jessica Seidel, the marketing senior director at Pahlisch.

Residents — including several people involved in a lively discussion about the neighborhood on Reddit — have raised concerns regarding the delayed commercial space. "I can't believe that a developer plats out acres and acres of expanded UGB, gets it approved by the City, then reneges on a portion of that," Liz Lotochinski, a Mountain View Neighborhood District board member, told the Source Weekly after seeing that the land was for sale.

Lotochinski lives within walking distance of the planned Markets at Petrosa location. She was looking forward to the finished development.

According to Seidel at Pahlisch, the plan is still in motion. "Unfortunately, commercial development has been delayed in response to changing market conditions and high-interest rates, but our commitment to the area has not changed."

When it comes to commercial development, Colin Stephens, community economic and development director for the City of Bend, noted that it typically comes after residential development.

"In general, it takes a certain amount of development and people living in the area to make commercial areas viable," said Stephens.

Seidel with Pahlisch echoed these reasons for the delay. "The sales of homes add to the desirability of the Petrosa commercial area for retail businesses."

Stephens compared the pace of the Petrosa development to that of the now-established neighborhood, Northwest Crossing. "Some of the commercial land is still not built out, and it took years for the market to support what is there," he said.

Development in Northwest Crossing started in 2004 and has taken over a decade, according to Stephens, for the commercial to turn into what we see today. While the City is responsible for expanding the UGB and approving the master planned community, Stephens said it has no control over the timing.

click to enlarge Commercial Controversy
Courtesy Compass Commercial
The dotted lines above outline land areas that have been zoned for commercial use.

"We, the City of Bend, can only set the table. We can't force people to eat. The UGB expansion set the table for areas all around town to have complete communities. The timing of construction of all of the elements it takes to make a complete community is driven by the private market and is not something under the city's control," said Stephens.

Although the promise of commercial development may have driven some people to the Petrosa area in the first place, the annexation agreement that brought the land into city limits had no set requirement for timing or exact types of commercial uses. "We can't force people to build buildings at a certain schedule," said Stephens.

Pahlisch, in accordance with the UGB expansion, was only required to create buildable lots. According to Stephens, this has been accomplished. "Pahlisch has fulfilled their requirements because they have developed commercial lots with new adjacent roundabouts, urban infrastructure an access points that allow people to get to these commercial lots."

The City is also responsible for regulating the allowed land uses. Since the Petrosa lot was initially approved for commercial use, it will remain zoned for commercial uses. "While the development of new communities is a long process, the future is bright at Petrosa, and we look forward to realizing the vision we have for northeast Bend," said Seidel.

Still, nearby resident Lotochinski hopes to soon see the area built out for the community. "I was looking forward to the markets. It was going to be an amazing convenience for me, having shops, stores, restaurants, a grocery store and things like that there."

About The Author

Julianna LaFollette

Julianna is currently pursuing her Masters in Journalism at NYU. She loves writing local stories about interesting people and events. When she’s not reporting, you can find her cooking, participating in outdoor activities or attempting to keep up with her 90 pound dog, Finn.
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