Major changes are on the horizon for the north end of Portland's NW district. Freight company Con-way owns nine square blocks between NW 19th and 22nd, Pettygrove and Upshur, which right now are a collection of warehouses and parking lots. But not for long! Con-way is working with developers and investors to convert the area into a medium-density, commercial and residential eco-haven (their plan uses the word "green" 51 times) and "an active and vital pedestrian environment" replete with pocket parks and a grocery store.
Con-way worked with GBD Architects to come up with a conceptual plan (pdf) this August that meets Con-ways needs (parking for 600-800 employees) and lays out a massive project for just over 1,200 residential units, two public parks, and 150,000 square feet of retail space on the nine blocks to be built over 15 years. Though its developing the master plan, Con-way aims to sell the property piecemeal to individual developers and investors and it's unclear what the final design for the area will look like.
All of this planning comes in the midst of the city's debate over the contentious new parking plan for NW Portland, the details of which city council is hashing out this week. If Con-way's conceptual plan actually comes to fruition, by about 2030 the neighborhood will be radically transformed from an edge-of-the-city industrial area to something like a new Pearl District. The whole of NW Portland west of the freeway has 9,400 residents, so entirely built-out, this development would increase the population of the area by more than 10 percent.
Concerns from the public during the current review process included the lack of detail regarding how the over-burdened shared sewer system would meet post-development demands, how the master plan meets area sustainability goals for storm water, the pollution from the high freight truck traffic, not enough parking, and that a proposed public square would attract homeless residents.