With the promise of Urban Renewal (UR) funds injecting economic vitality in their neighborhood, residents in Lents have been eagerly waiting for the Portland Development Commission (PDC), along with the vast development opportunities in the area, to usher in a new era of growth and prosperity. Now it appears area residents will have to wait longer, as a prime development site at 92nd and Harold, long considered the key to catalyzing growth in the Lents Town Center, is at risk of losing the influx of new businesses, shopping, and the built-in market to support it.
The prospects of a mixed use development at the former baseball field, which is situated in the heart of Lents’ business district and next to mass transit and freeway access, as well as the 38 acre Lents Park, has faded since the PDC ended its negotiations several months ago with Turtle Island Development, the developer slated to build a mix of apartments and shops at the site. Those prospects have continued to fade as the PDC has since conducted yet another market study to determine the most practical use for the site, despite neighborhood residents clamoring for mixed-use development of the site and wondering why a developer willing to do so was turned away.
As reported by Brad Schmidt in the Oregonian, the site is now being considered for use as future homes for foster children. And while most acknowledge the need for such housing, residents don’t see it as the right fit for a site that would anchor the north end of the Lents Town Center, and was anticipated to bring more tax revenue to the URA. The missed opportunity to add market rate housing, shopping, and new businesses could further hamper Lents’ ability to boost its local economy and growth prospects.
The vitality of Lents is important for Southeast Portland as a whole, especially as it sits on the MAX’s new Green Line, and is one of Portland’s southern entry points off of I-205. More locally, Lents is an important neighbor to Foster-Powell, as we not only share 82nd Avenue as a border, but also count the Foster corridor as the lifeblood of our neighborhoods and depend on the same UR funding to see its improvement.
The PDC will share the results of its most recent market study revolving around the 92nd and Harold site on January 10th. They will be presenting at this month’s URAC meeting, which will be held at Lent Elementary, 5105 SE 97th Avenue. From there, the public will have a better idea of what to expect at the site, and what direction Lents will go from there.