Finding Downtown and Creating a Meaningful Core- Cornelius, OR

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Project at a Glance

  • Issue Area Community vision and values, Economic development, Immigrant integration
  • Engagement Approaches Community conversations/dialogues, Community meetings (townhalls, forums, etc), Digital engagement, Engaging non-English speakers, Engaging traditionally marginalized groups, Surveys and data, Visioning/ strategic planning, Youth Engagement
Project Description

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Finding Downtown and Creating a Meaningful Core- Cornelius, OR

The City of Cornelius’ downtown area was underdeveloped and unfinished and the community had a shared vision of recreating downtown to be a culturally diverse core for all residents.

To redevelop the downtown area with input from all community members to enable the community to move forward as one.


Project Summary:
Downtown needed to be recreated and the City of Cornelius knew that the community’s  input would be essential to ensure the success of the Downtown Redevelopment Plan. With a rise in the Latino/Hispanic community, the city focused on multi-cultural input from all residents. Residents were asked what they would like to see in the downtown urban core, how it should be designed and what could be done to encourage more private investment and employment in the downtown area.

Extensive community outreach revealed the following suggestions from residents:

  • Build on existing assets
  • Have diverse amenities and services available
  • Improving traffic congestion and safety
  • Add community spaces for events
  • Enhancing the livability for all residents.

As Cornelius continues to complete the new Downtown Plan and formation of the Urban Renewal District, they remain focused on collaborations with key partners such as Centro Cultural, Virginia Garcia and St. Alexander’s Catholic Church.

Engagement Strategies:

  • 500 community surveys were returned to the city
  • Poster boards in high foot-traffic areas collected over 1,300 unique responses of how to improve downtown.
  • Bilingual teams were used at 12 community events to solicit responses, opinions and ideas.
  • Latino community leaders helped attract residents to the survey tables and teams working the events.
  • The Youth Advisory Council for the city, held a night time meeting to provide youth input for the project.
  • Community members were reached in a Vision Ideation Session, online surveys, community conversations, stakeholder interviews, and surveys at local events.


  • Downtown has a major couplet moving east and west through the center, which has created a more walkable downtown.
  • A major pedestrian activated lit crosswalk was installed by the Oregon Dept. of Transportation (ODOT).
  • TheDowntown Plan has designated a Latino Historical District, including Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Clinic, Centro Cultural and Cornelius City Hall.
  • The City of Cornelius deeded back a street to St. Alexander’s Catholic Church, so the church can build a larger church sanctuary for an increasingly larger parish. The alleyways joining the blocks will be receiving historically significant Latino leader names to honor Latino residents.
  • A newer and stronger Chamber of Commerce has been formed by combining the chambers of Cornelius and its westerly neighboring city of Forest Grove.
  • The Economic Development Commission (EDC) was reestablished to reflect the new diversity and new businesses in the area.

Additional Resources:
Cornelius, OR- 2019 AAC Winner: Presentation

Local Contact:
Ryan Wells
Community Development Director
City of Cornelius
(503) 357-9112

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