Well those of us that have lived here long enough know the story of “Old Orenco” and the founders who made the once booming town great. The rich history of the area is enjoying a revival these past few years and has seen more then its fair share of changes too. Part of the struggle for those of us that love it so much is maintaining ties to the past while allowing for this new High Rise Future that METRO and the City have carved out for us. With the Orenco Woods Nature Park now safely in the hands of the City for future generations and natural road and wetlands boundaries to the West and South there is little more room for major change in the Orenco area.
The massive high rise development known as The Platform District is nearing completion in 2016 and businesses, new Orencoans are beginning to move in! The 2nd and Third phases of Project Reach – The Orchards at Orenco – are under way. There is only one place left for development to head and that is East down Cherry and onto the 5 plus Acres that is home to the first home ever built in Orenco; the home of Archibald McGill – the Co-Founder of the Oregon Nursery Company.
Long known as the Pitman Estate the 5 Acres has remained until now as a Time Capsule to what once was a large acreage Estate. The photo below from 1936 shows how the McGill-Pitman Estate connected to the City of Orenco and the factory and fields to the East and North. The large building to the West is the Company Offices and was a replica in many ways to the McGill home. The Oregon Electric Railway ran through this area until the 1920’s when it was replaced by the freight line. The town of Orenco was going bankrupt about when this photo was taken and Doctor A,O. Pitman and his wife were in residence by then at the McGill home. Archie (AO) Pitman was Mayor about that time and saw the town through some troubled time no doubt being a great steward of the land and the home which he and his wife beautifully maintained over many decades.
Now the Historic Estate that belonged to the man who founded the Company and built a town is under development review as developer Con-Am has negotiated a contract for purchase from the Pitman Estate. Up for discussion will be how to preserve the old estate and home and allow the development that is proposed. The McGill Home is on the Hillsboro Cultural Inventory and must be maintained. Under previous development requests processed in 2007 the neighborhood and developer (Legend Homes) reached an accord that the home needed a 1 acre lot to maintain its Historical reference and Provenance. The key for many will be to blend the old and the new and to allow the grandfather of all Orenco History to shine through. This in the end will be a tricky balance to hold. After many many years of constant building and construction this project may take the brunt of frustration that has been brewing in the community so it seems very important for all involved that the planning process proceed carefully to avoid any land use appeals or infighting.
Announcement and Call for Neighbors to Get Involved- Message from Bonnie Kooken head of Orenco Neighborhood Organization- ONO
The ConAm Group, would like to meet with Orenco neighborhoods and all interested parties to discuss their current plans for the Pitman-McGill property. REACH has graciously agreed to host the meeting to discuss the Property next Tuesday, October 27th at 6:00pm at their Orchards at Orenco project located at 6520 NE Cherry Drive.
Reach’s preference is for people to park on the street, but if they cannot find any parking some spaces should be available within their parking lot. Please note that the building will only be unlocked from the parking lot side according to REACH so people will need to walk around to access.
Hope to see you there.
Bonnie Kooken for Rob Morgan, Development Manager of ConAM