More Urban Renewal in the Neighborhood?

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.

Powell-Division Transit and Development Project: http://www.oregonmetro.gov

Powell-Division Transit and Development Project: http://www.oregonmetro.gov

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.

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3 Responses to More Urban Renewal in the Neighborhood?

  1. christine says:

    “affordable housing” really should = land banking. Subsidized housing is a short-term fix and reduced rents usually last just a few decades. Land trust holdings stabilize housing costs over the long term and provide an opportunity for people to put down roots, keep their kids in the same school over time and contribute to a more cohesive community. Given what Urban Renewal costs us (reduced funding for essential services) we should be demanding sane, coherent long-term solutions. Not simply underwriting wins for developers.

    • Good points, Christine.

      I’d think new affordable housing does go a long way, especially with added density. Along with some of what you’re suggesting, I’d also argue it should be combined with resources to keep people where they are. In other words, instead of conceding, “hey, your home values are going to go up, but you can move into these new apartments,” providing ways to stay where they are could accomplish some of the same goal without uprooting and displacing people. Also, easier pathways to home-ownership would be a plus in gentrifying or close-to-gentrifying neighborhoods.

  2. Pingback: Happy Weekend, Foster People! | Foster-Powell. A neighborhood blog.

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