Pearl Rotarians heard expansive long-term plans March 26 for the redevelopment of our neighborhood. We call this area the edge of the Pearl District. The city government calls our area the Broadway Corridor and the plans to redevelop 34 acres around us.
June Reyes from Prosper Portland, the city government sponsoring agent, told Rotarians that most of the work on the project to date has involved planning and organizational activities. Hopefully, in the next year or so, a major rebuilding of the corridor with begin, although some more cautious thoughts are suggested below. Handouts from the city say that the renewal project may last as long as 15 to 20 years.
June reports that the key focus of redevelopment in the near future will be the large U.S. Postal mail sorting station that is located across the street from our Ecotrust building. The post office building will be torn down, the sorting facilities moved elsewhere, and a large park-like community for multiple uses will be constructed. The city owns the land in the district, but will depend on private interests for some of the necessary money.
June showed Rotarians slide images that suggest some of the possible future development ideas. Portland’s historic Union Station will remain, being integrated more into the current postal land. June presented some maps that highlighted three possible themes in the renewal area: play, nature, discovery. Especially notable in the new area will be green spaces and walking/hiking paths. In addition, the developers clearly intend the district to be seen as a fun destination for visitors, involving sports facilities and recreational opportunities.
The planners have envisioned ambitious specific goals for the area. Eventually, June told Rotarians, residential development will include 2,000 households of which 700 will be affordable housing, and job sites for 4,000 workers.
While the Corridor is intended for all folks, the literature on its future development especially emphasizes its value for three groups: people of color, the low-income population, and children. The material on the Prosper Portland website gives some rationale for this by stating “Previous downtown development projects have propelled Portland’s economic growth and contributed to Portland’s reputation as a popular destination city. However, many downtown projects have failed to benefit - or have negatively impacted - longtime residents and community members, particularly low-income residents and communities of color.” Consistent with these ideas, some of the project literature emphasizes the necessary development of shops and facilities that are especially desired by low-income residents.
While projecting overall positive enthusiasm, June suggested to Rotarians that some of the ambitious plans of the project may have to be scaled back. She indicated a couple of recent setbacks. First, the construction market in Portland has become “softer”, with the result that the costs of developing the site may outrun the current resources to pay. Second, according to June, difficulties in developing collaborative arrangements with other public and private organizations have “slowed us down”. (text courtesy of Pete Guest, and photo by Seth Gardner)