Tag Archives: PDC

Is PDC on Track with Neighborhood Economic Development?

The DRAFT Neighborhood Economic Development (NED) Action Plan is now available for review. Comments are due March 30, 2011 and may be submitted to Kate Deane, Community Economic Development Manager at the Portland Development Commission at: deanek@pdc.us or by filling out the form included in the electronic document and mailing it to Kate Deane, PDC, 222 NW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR, 97213.

As a neighborhood resident, small business owner, or if you are interested in helping to revitalize Portland’s commercial corridors, this is your opportunity to review the Draft Action Plan and provide comments. Your input is vital as the City of Portland works to create public-private partnerships, develop new resources for neighborhoods, and build capacity for local organizations.

More information about the NED Action Plan project can be found at: http://www.pdc.us/bus_serv/ned.asp.

NECN Opposes Rose Quarter’s Inclusion in ICURA

Reflecting the dissatisfaction many North and Northeast residents feel with the incomplete urban renewal that has resulted from the Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area, the NECN Board of Directors has taken the position that the inclusion of the Rose Quarter district in the URA would siphon off remaining funds to projects that would have little benefit to N/NE residents.

“The NECN Board feels strongly that Rose Quarter projects, which are large and discontinuous with the North/Northeast community, will pull resources away from more community-based projects within the ICURA boundaries. For the first ten years of ICURA, the majority of the funding went to two large projects, the Interstate Light Rail project and the New Columbia project. Now that there is additional funding available, it should be spent on neighborhood level projects that benefit existing North and Northeast residents.”

Read the full letter here: NECN Position on ICURA-RoseQuarterJan 2011

Vanport 3: Vacant Lot, Clinic, or Trader Joe’s?

Original King Commercial Center Sketch

Meetings were held recently at Curious Comedy so that the Portland Development Commission could update the Vanport business owners and members of the Vanport Project Advisory Committee. The topic was the unsolicited proposal the PDC has received to complete Phase 3 of the project. This phase is the keystone of the development that would provide a landmark building at the corner of Alberta and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The project has struggled to attract an anchor tenant necessary to get the project going and attract smaller retailers to participate. Lacking that commitment and considering the adverse economic climate, the project was put on hold.

In order to anchor the project, a grocery store was the main focus of negotiations between developers, PDC, and retailers. Various companies were approached and some expressed interest but none would commit to the site. 24 Hour Fitness became the main prospect for an anchor but backed out. In the time since the first plans for Vanport were made, the site has been ringed by new fitness clubs, gyms and grocery stores. New Seasons built the Concordia Store at 33rd and Killingsworth, Arbor Lodge store at Interstate and Rosa Parks, and is rumored to be negotiating a deal to build again at Williams and Fremont. Whole Foods took over the Nature’s at 15th and Fremont and Safeway has just begun another remodel of its King store and will be adding more organic and “natural” items.

The latest proposal would consist primarily of a post-surgical rehabilitation clinic, offices for the Urban League, and only 5000 square feet of retail. The clinic was estimated to bring in foot traffic of only 100 people a month. Sara King of PDC said at the meeting that the proposal, in its current form, falls short of PDC’s expectations for the project. Ray Leary went a bit further, saying: “There’s not enough lipstick . . . to dress up this pig.”

One thing neighbors have said they wanted to see at the site that would complement the current offerings is a Trader Joe’s. Indeed, there have been ongoing negotiations with the retailer but developers Ray Leary and Jeff Sackett have been told “not now.” Trader Joe’s typically has its customers drive as far a 10 miles to shop at their stores and the company fears a new store at this location would take too much business from its Hollywood location. Trader Joe’s would not necessarily be dissuaded by other grocers in close proximity due to its niche business model.

When the Vanport businesses purchased their spaces in phase 1, they were told by PDC to be patient in waiting for the completion of the project in a way that would bring the traffic to make thier businesses thrive. In the end, it seemed the concensus was that this project was not what they had been waiting for and if given the choice, they would rather go on waiting for the right anchor tenant than see this project get built.

Vanport Square III Proposal Forgoes Retail

Rendering of the original plan for the "King Commercial Center"

Businesses in the Vanport Square development are concerned about plans under consideration to complete the project on the vacant block at Alberta and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. with an office and clinic instead of retail. Long envisioned as the cornerstone of the partly-built Vanport Square development, Phase 3 has suffered many delays. Originally intended to be anchored by a new grocery store or 24 Hour Fitness, the Portland Development Commission has struggled to attract a commitment to the project.

At one time, PDC tried to lure a call center to locate in Vanport as retailers shunned the site. Once again, PDC appears to be changing its plan for the project and looking to consider development even if it doesn’t result in retail-based neighborhood center that could bring life back to this stretch of King and survival to the isolated businesses already there.

According to KNA’s Alan Silver who attended the last PDC public meeting to mention the plan:

PDC has been approached by two development teams about Vanport phase 3. One proposal would include the Urban League, medical offices, and commercial; the other team includes Jeff Sackett (one of the developers of Vanport Square), and its proposal includes commercial real estate, including negotiations with an anchor tenant whose identity the team is “not disclosing publicly at this time.”

The PDC is ‘gathering information’ on these two proposals at present. It expects to have no funds available to aid developers of Vanport phase 3, who will have to rely entirely on private financing to complete construction.

Vanport Square, aka the King Commercial Center, is the keystone in the future of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in the King Neighborhood. Without the original long-term vision being realized, King’s center could be resigned to many years of low property values in a district that does not create a pedestrian friendly environment. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Vanport is caught in a “catch 22” situation where a lack of businesses fails to attact foot traffic. Lack of foot traffic fails to attract businesses. If a proposal is accepted that is not retail based at the street level, the long sought-after connection between the existing Vanport development and the Alberta corridor will not be fulfilled.

The Portland Development Commission has scheduled two informational meetings held December 21, 2010 for Vanport Project Advisory Committee (PAC) members and Vanport Square business owners. A morning meeting will be held to accommodate Vanport Square businesses and an evening meeting will be targeted to PAC members.

The purpose of the informational meetings is to outline the developer selection process and to clarify the role of the PAC in the selection process. As this meeting is scheduled only a few days after the developer’s submissions are due, PDC says they won’t be able to answer a lot of questions about the specific projects; however, they will schedule future meetings as their process develops.

New Housing Planned for Vacant MLK Frontage

Ivy City Homes is the name of a new mixed-income housing development planned for Ivy Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. just south of King Neighborhood. It is to be one of the first projects nationally to earn the Earth Advantage Community certification for sustainability.

A public/private partnership with the Portland Development Commission, the project provides a provision for permanently affordable homeownership with a subcontractor base consisting of a high percentage of minority-owned, women-owned, and emerging small businesses. Permanent affordability of 30% of the units to families earning up to 80% of the median family income through a partnership with Proud Ground, a community land trust with deed covenants that restrict the resale prices of the permanently affordable units through future resales.

The homes are to achieve a LEED for Homes certification with energy-efficiency of 45% over current energy code and will have energy efficient appliances and secure bike parking. Construction on the 28 units of residential and live/work space is scheduled to be completed summer 2011. Of the 28 units available for sale, approximately nine will be affordable to families earning 60-80% of the median family income for the area.