Salem business Journal
Growth is Market-driven...Salem is Vibrant
Human nature is to want our routine to remain pretty much the same each day
maybe a dinner out or a movie once in
awhile. Bigger changes challenge us, and at times can upset people. I hear testimony in Council meetings from residents who see new homes coming into their neighborhood, and they don’t want to see those changes to their surroundings. But the reality is that Salem is growing, and that we can choose to see the positive change it can bring.
I have had more requests for a Trader Joe’s store than any other retail outlet. We have young people graduating from high school and college that want good jobs. There is a clamor for more art and culture. What all of these have in common is that well managed growth brings these opportunities.
In November I will be at the CoreNet Global Summit. This is a conference where over 3,000 site selectors meet to find locations for new businesses. Last year when I attended, the questions I was asked were consistently about the schools, housing availability, and population level.
Last May I went to the International Conference of Shopping Centers – over 46,000 people representing cities, retail stores (including Trader Joe’s), and shopping center owners. The comments were once again that our number of residents needed to be higher to warrant locating in Salem. When we provided information about our steady 2% growth rate their interest increased.
Two percent growth is manageable and represents good planning by the City
to accomodate our children and future residents. Where it becomes a change that is difficult is when it is so focused in one or two areas as we see in West Salem and South Salem. The buildable land inside our urban growth boundary is in these areas, so the growth seems more than 2% to those who live there.
What can we do to alleviate some of the pressure? For one thing, we are encouraging and assisting mixed-used projects in our central city to increase density in locations closer to where people work. Housing choices are important, and living in the inner city appeals to many people.
The City is an active partner with the school district in planning for new school locations and notifying the district when subdivisions will be building. Even though there is some lag time for new schools, this allows the district to purchase land before it is developed.
For recreation, the City has built new ball fields and is developing one new neighborhood park per year. The addition of the Salvation Army Kroc Center in late 2008 will provide more recreation in addition to the effort to have a three park pedestrian/bike access from Minto Island through Riverfront Park on to Wallace Marine Park.
Traffic issues are also being addressed by the progress towards a third bridge across the Willamette River. The required environmental study is underway with efforts towards obtaining the funds for the
The Mayor’s view Janet Taylor
design and engineering. Although still 8 to 10 years from completion, we are further towards the goal of a third bridge than we have been in 20 years.
Another approach to traffic issues is the identification and acceleration of some of the more easier projects that can move some of the morning and evening rush hour traffic a little quicker. Off ramp improvement from the bridges to front street, a stop light at the bottom of the bridge access to front, intersections improvements all over town, and additional turn lanes where there is city owned right of way can do much to give relief to the traffic growth. We are now in the process of identifying which of these projects we can fund in the next 12 months rather than delay until we can only do them
as part of the larger project.
All in all, growth is market driven. If homes didn’t sell, no one would build more. It is a business of cycles where interest rates, and material costs affect it’s ups and downs. Yes - it causes changes, but many of the results of the change will bring us some of what we want - good jobs, art and culture, and retail choices.
What an exiciting time to live in Salem!!! It truly is becoming a more vibrant city every day.
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