Where Everybody Knows Your Name
Exploring Wilsonville, one of PDX’s last frontier suburbs.
Tucked along the Willamette River south of Portland, the city of Wilsonville bills itself as a gateway to wine country, but residents consider it an oasis, a place to build community beyond the bustle of their big-city neighbor.
Family-oriented events such as a free annual carnival, ample greenspaces and thoughtful attention to urban growth and planning draw inhabitants together.
“Wilsonville is one of the friendliest cities I’ve ever lived in'” says Liz Lesh, who has lived there for 12 years. She describes a close-knit community where everyone looks out for each other, which is great for her family of five, including three young children.
“You can’t buy this sense of connection,” she says.
Distinct neighborhoods and several master-planned communities, such as Villebois, the city’s largest — and still growing — planned development, appeal to a wide range of buyers.
“The neighborhoods are designed to get people out in front and into the community,” says Jeanie Williams, listing specialist and director of sales at Green Group Real Estate. Williams, who has lived in Wilsonville for eight years, feels the new development will appeal to families with children, as well as to retirees and empty-nesters.
The selling price for homes in Wilsonville through the end of summer and into autumn averaged $417,000, with homes on the market approximately 55 days. Million-dollar waterfront homes raise the averages slightly.
The West Linn-Wilsonville School District boasts high parent and community involvement and has hung onto smaller class sizes, despite continued growth, says Lesh. Students are served by three elementary schools, one middle school and Wilsonville High School.
The Center for Research in Environmental Sciences and Technologies, or CREST, established in 2001 and dedicated by the famed anthropologist, Dr. Jane Goodall, provides hands on, inquiry-based science education programs to all district students at no charge.
Storytime, complete with costumes and props, has earned a following at the Clackamas County Library branch in Wilsonville, with standing-room only crowds in attendance.
Greenspaces are abundant and include Graham Oaks Nature Park, Coffee Lake Wetlands, and Memorial Park along the waterfront. Water features at Murase Plaza and Town Center Park draw families on hot summer days.
Bullwinkle’s Family Fun Center draws crowds of all ages year round for rides, mini-golf, laser-tag and more.
Bisected by I-5, with easy freeway access, the commute from Wilsonville to downtown Portland is about 20 minutes long, says Lesh, and Salem is only 30 minutes away. (Watch out for rush hour, though, when the drive to Portland can take more than an hour.)
Wilsonville’s public transportation system, South Metro Regional transit, or SMART, is free within Wilsonville. Cyclists wanting to extend a trip can make use of bike storage lockers at SMART Central, the transit hub. TriMet’s Westside Express, WES Commuter Rail, connects five stations from Beaverton to Wilsonville.
But for many Wilsonville residents, the commute can be a nonissue. Several major employers, such as Mentor Graphics and Xerox, are located in walking distance to eastside residential neighborhoods.