Although perhaps the biggest question facing the Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area—whether it should include, and help pay for, Rose Quarter redevelopment—remains months away, the Portland Development Commission is pushing forward on another set of expansion plans for the zone, officials announced today.
Under the proposed boundaries, expected to be made formal this summer, redevelopment money allotted for the Interstate URA could be spent along Lombard Street through Kenton and University Park, in "downtown" St. Johns, down Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, and along Killingsworth and Alberta streets.
Unlike recently reduced plans for a giant new Central City Urban Renewal Area, this plan has generated absolutely zero controversy from outside agencies like Multnomah County that normally stand to lose out on tax revenues when urban renewal areas expand. County Chair Jeff Cogen's chief of staff, Marissa Madrigal, was part of the conversation when the boundary changes were hammered out.
"We knew about this and we're fine with this," says David Austin, Cogen's spokesman. "It puts money out into the neighborhoods where it needs to go."
The current expansion had been held up by the Rose Quarter planning process, which is expected to come back to council later this spring. Moving forward now is a small victory for Mayor Sam Adams, who can trumpet the gains for long-struggling parts of North and Northeast Portland without waiting.
It also allows him to do so while also sidestepping controversy. Folding the Rose Quarter into the Interstate URA won't be swallowed as easily by the county or Portland Public Schools—or even the residents who currently live in the URA and worry that money for blight will be spent on projects they believe private developers should pay for.