Last month, Portland Development Commission’s Susan Kuhn told a sparsely attended Gateway Area Business Association meeting about PDC’s plans for the area’s final five years as an urban renewal district.
Project manager Kuhn spoke from a slide presentation highlighting the Gateway Action Plan (AP) that included three regional foci: The Halsey-Weidler Business District, from Northeast 102nd to 112th avenues; the Gateway Transit Center, from Northeast Halsey to Glisan Street, and between I-205 and 102nd avenues and Central Gateway, from Northeast Glisan to Southeast Stark streets, and between Northeast 99th and 102nd avenues.
The seven-year plan, which is currently two years through, is poised to see the best possible use of the remaining $35 million funding before the 2022 sunset, according to Kuhn. PDC is putting $25 million into the Halsey-Weidler couplet, $8 million into the Gateway Transit Center and $2 million into Central Gateway.
The AP’s Halsey-Weidler business district component contemplates implementing infrastructure improvements, exploring development opportunities and investing in public amenities to foster a cohesive, active and lively commercial district. The Gateway Transit Center part contemplates addressing issues related to connectivity and building partnerships to fund important infrastructure projects to attract future investment. Finally, the Central Gateway part contemplates removing barriers to redevelopment and utilizing employment-related tools to attract new investment.
This so-called transit center includes the official, relatively tiny foot-printed Gateway Transit Center with its limited surface parking lot and busy MAX light-rail stop for the confluent Green, Blue and Red lines. The MAX transit center accounts for less than approximately 2 to 3 percent of the bounded area on PDC’s own map.
But PDC’s so-called and drawn transit center also includes the abandoned Gateway Elks Lodge building now awaiting David Douglas School District’s planned rezoning and redevelopment; Oregon Clinic; the undeveloped and long-fenced area along Northeast 102nd Avenue across from Fred Meyer, where Gateway Elements was to be built more than 15 years ago; and the Gateway Shopping Center including Fred Meyer and a dozen or more stores in the rectangular strip mall.
Only in the sense that PDC’s Gateway Transit Center is a large, highly visible and mostly undeveloped western access point—via vehicle and MAX trains—to the Gateway business district may it be fairly described as such.
More accurately, Gateway Transit Center should be reserved for use in describing the relatively small transit center itself, including MAX tracks, a shelter, ticket stations, outbuildings and parking lot. that this relatively easily accessed region of the Gateway is so underdeveloped is strange. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of the much-larger-than-a-transit region bounded by Northeast Halsey and Glisan streets, I-205 and 102nd Avenue, is completely undeveloped and has been largely ignored by the city for more than 15 years.
On the brighter side, PDC’s handout goes into some more detailed history of the Gateway Regional Center Urban Renewal Area designation that gave birth to the GAP and more specific goals.
One specific goal for the Halsey-Weidler Commercial district Investment Strategy is to fund development of the Halsey/Weidler couplet (“Halsey/Weidler couplet work update” MCM March 2016). Another is to promote redevelopment of publicly owned properties and to facilitate redevelopment of privately owned properties such as Gateway Discovery Park and the adjacent one-acre lot. Yet another is to implement east and west entry triangle improvements (the west entry triangle is currently being used—by absentee Lincoln City owner Debra P. Williams, Trustee of the Rodolph C. Girtman Trust—for billboard-based commercial advertising).
PDC spokesperson Anne Mangan explained via email the action plan for the moment on the west entry triangle is to develop an action plan. Another is identifying a priority pedestrian connection across Northeast 102nd Avenue.
One specific goal of the Gateway Transit Center plan part is to add connective streets to reduce the space between crossings to less than approximately 350 feet. Another is assessing zoning; identify and unlock regulatory barriers to redevelopment. Yet another is to prioritize transportation in the Gateway Master Street Plan that enhances pedestrian connectivity to and from the GTC. Another is to facilitate future redevelopment through strategic planning efforts such as Oregon Clinic parking requirements and solutions.
One goal of the Central Gateway part of the AP is to prioritize transportation projects in the Gateway Master Street Plan, including identifying System Development Charge’s investment of other funding to implement key connections and to attract tenants. Another is to engage with PDC and private property owners to set up a Local Improvement District to help support investment in transportation infrastructure. Yet another is to engage businesses interested in locating in Gateway through the E-Zone Program to promote job growth in Central Gateway.
For more information, contact Kuhn at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 503-823-3406.