With recent and upcoming changes to Foster Road, such as the addition of the Portland Mercado, various storefront improvements, and the soon-to-come Transportation and Streetscape Project, we can thank Foster’s inclusion in the Lents Urban Renewal Area for much of it. That pot of money, though, has also led to some political in-fighting and inter- and intra-neighborhood conflict regarding how URA resources should be directed and allocated.
While many positive changes have resulted, its overall success has been a mixed-bag. And it’s not without controversy.
With that being said, it’s quite possible Foster-Powell could see another one of its boundary lines included in an Urban Renewal Area. According to the Portland Tribune, Mayor Hales is proposing a new URA that would cover the same area as the proposed Powell-Division Bus Rapid Transit line. And while a route has yet to be determined, two of the three options being proposed calls for the new line to run the length of Powell through our neighborhood, either turning north at SE 82nd or 92nd, then continuing to Gresham along Division.
The idea behind the Powell-Division Transit and Development Project is to, basically, get a better (read: faster) transit line down Powell and Division that would connect East Portland to closer-in neighborhoods and downtown. And knowing how the city views new transit lines, a secondary (or primary?) goal would be to encourage more investment along the route. But Hales isn’t necessarily viewing a new Urban Renewal Area as a way to promote even more investment, at least not publicly. With new stations and potential development nodes along the new line, the proposed Urban Renewal Area is being pitched, almost, as a tool to stem the potential displacement that could result from a presumed rise in property values in the project area, especially in East Portland. As the article quotes Patrick Quinton, PDC’s executive director, “The bulk of the money would go into affordable housing.”
Very few other details have been shared, and the idea is only in its infancy. Whether it comes to fruition will remain to be seen. Regardless, it’s safe to say that Powell will see some major changes in the coming years.