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New Gateway zoning regulations published

Draft proposals would allow bigger, taller projects, require design review


Adopted Vision: Growing dramatically, Gateway has added many multi-storied buildings with ground floor restaurants and trendy retail shops, as was anticipated in 1995. Modern transit stations let passengers off at locations sheltered from the strong east wind and driving winter rains. Beyond the stations lie the heart of this exciting new employment, commercial, and entertainment district, anchored by major retailers and office complexes. The park blocks are the focus of development and offer open space and relaxation for the growing population of residents, workers, and visitors.

Adopted Policy:
Foster the development of this area as a “Regional Center.” Attract intense commercial and high-density residential development capable of serving several hundred thousand people. Promote an attractive urban envrionment by creating better pedestian connections and providing more public open space.
Gateway planning regulations project
The city is bringing greater density to Gateway through the Gateway Planning Regulations Project. They begin with the project itself.

The draft of the proposed land use changes is nearly half an inch thick and the proposed changes are scattered throughout the document: changes in plan district boundaries, zoning classifications for individual properties, new regulations governing these classifications, and design requirements for the area as a whole.

As this issue went to press, the draft was scheduled to be aired at two public open houses in June. It is scheduled to be reviewed by the Portland Planning Commission on August 26, and Design Commission August 21. The Portland City Council is expected to hear and enact the proposal sometime in October and November, at dates yet to be set.

Ron Tonkin scores
The simplest and starkest changes concern the corridor bounded roughly by Northeast Glisan and Southeast Stark streets, 103rd and 161st avenues. Breaking away from the old Gateway Plan District, it will be known as the East Corridor, and will have regulations of its own. Unlike the Gateway Regional Center district to the west, there will be no zone changes per se in the corridor.

However, there will be several changes in what is allowed within those zones. As with the Gateway district, developers will no longer have to automatically provide a certain amount of open space and housing with every project. “Exterior display and storage,” and drive-though facilities, formerly prohibited, are still not permitted within a few blocks of MAX light rail stops at 122nd, 148th and 162nd avenues; everywhere else in the corridor they will be allowed. So will auto repair facilities that are “accessory to an auto dealership.”

This will be good news indeed to the Tonkin Empire, which is currently seeking to remodel its Honda dealership at 300 S.E. 122nd Ave., and anticipates other changes in the future. General Manager Ken Cornelison told the Memo that he might have sought to expand the facility, but that doing so would have brought it under the Gateway development regulations and forced drastic and impractical changes in the business. Tonkin planning consultant Peter Finlay Fry has been lobbying for changes similar to those contained in the draft. There is one problem still: some of the Tonkin properties are within the pedestrian zones near the light rail stops, and thus subject to the old regulations.

The other major change in this area concerns maximum building height for new development within the pedestrian zones. The draft proposes to set this at 100 feet for multi-family and commercial zones, down from the current 120 feet, near the Ventura Park (122nd Avenue) station, and up from limits ranging from 45 to 65 feet near the other two stations. Where single family zones abut these high-intensity areas, there will be a required “transition zone” similar to one proposed for the Gateway Town Center.


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