MAYOR SAM ADAMS and his development partners are taking a second look at revamping the Rose Quarter into a 24-hour entertainment district, after a first attempt ended in acrimony earlier this year. This time around, the proposed name has changed—goodbye "Rose Quarter Live!," hello "Jumptown." Memorial Coliseum is also free from earlier threats of demolition, and the city promises Portlanders will have a stronger say in designing the revamped area.
Over the years, the city has drafted a whopping nine redevelopment plans for the Rose Quarter, embarking on the most recent in 2008. This past April, outcry greeted Mayor Adams' vision for renewing the Eastside area between the Steel and Broadway Bridges ["Little Dubai," News, April 16]. During a packed town hall on the redesign, architectural preservationists condemned a move to replace Memorial Coliseum with a new Beavers baseball stadium, and a little old lady told Adams to his face that the plan was driven by "ego and greed." Adams' office says it is now moving methodically on the massive redevelopment, turning to Portland's stand-by public involvement tool: a committee.
Over 100 Portlanders applied to serve on the new 20-person volunteer committee that will spend September reviewing design ideas for Memorial Coliseum and the Rose Quarter. All ideas submitted will stand on "equal footing," promises Adams, adding, "We want competition." The citizen committee will pass the top three ideas to city council this fall.
The biggest player in the mix so far is the Portland Trail Blazers, who hold special development rights in the area. Though plans are still very rough, the Trail Blazers are hoping to develop the Rose Quarter into Jumptown—an area packed with new stores, restaurants, a music venue, and a "one-of-a-kind Nike interactive experience" (possibly a museum?).
To design and pitch Jumptown to the city, the Blazers are partnering with Cordish Development, a company known for bringing a mall-like, Hard Rock Café aesthetic to urban renewal projects. But Blazers President Larry Miller is also hiring a local architect and promises Jumptown will retain a Portland feel.
"This is being driven by Portland. This is not being driven by an outside corporation like Cordish," says Miller.
Even public-spending stalwart City Commissioner Amanda Fritz seems supportive of the entertainment district idea.
"I think this really does give us an opportunity for family wage jobs, 24-7-365," said Commissioner Fritz at a city council meeting on the idea last week. "The question of whether Memorial Coliseum is of value seems to be answered at this point."