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Community plaza coming to downtown Tigard next summer

The plaza is about a year away from completion, but city officials and local artists have added some colorful installations in the meantime.

TIGARD, Ore. — An empty lot off SW Burnham Street in Tigard is turning into anything but.

“This is where we're gonna have a big beautiful public plaza for the residents of Tigard in 2022,” said Tigard’s community development director Kenny Asher. There’s a distinct “construction” look going on that Asher says is by deign.

“Everything that's here is designed in a way to be visited safely during COVID, and yeah, people really want to be together. They really want to get back into the community, back into public space to gather together again,” Asher said.

Tigard is turning the space into Universal Plaza, a place for gathering in the heart of downtown. It will be completed next July, but they wanted to figure out a way to give it some early use.

“Instead of just leaving it empty and putting a fence around it, they decided to fill it with art,” said Alisha Sullivan, art coordinator for the project. Sullivan has managed and helped create all the installations.

Credit: City of Tigard

You’ll find movable benches, musical benches, camas bulbs planted under dozens of stakes waiting to bloom in the spring, a haiku projector displaying poetry from community members and a 34,000 square foot ground mural. The newest and most imposing piece is called “Beacon,” made of scaffolding and colorful fabric, complete with lighting once night falls.

Credit: City of Tigard

“We hope that as things loosen, people will be able to come in and so adding humans is kind of the next dream,” Sullivan said.

Once Universal Plaza is complete, Asher says there will be a splash pad, walking trails that connect to nearby Fanno Creek Trail, and a lawn for picnicking. The goal is that the colorful art will eventually give way to gatherings that are just as vibrant.

“This is Universal Plaza for a reason,” Sullivan said. “And we wanted it to be a place that everyone feels welcome and putting together all these designs and concepts and different media of art. We hope it kind of represents people gathering together, and coming, and understanding it from their own perspectives.”

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