Portland City Council approves urban renewal increase by $67 million

Civic Affairs

The increase brings the total tax increment financing for the Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal project to $402 million

The Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Plan in inner North/Northeast Portland could receive $67 million more in tax increment financing, bringing the total to $402 million. City council will vote on that matter Wednesday, January 6, 2021 (Prosper Portland).

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to amend the city’s Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Plan to increase its tax increment financing by $67 million, bringing the total to $402 million. 

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said during an initial hearing of the measure on Dec. 16, 2020, that the amendment is designed to “increase affordable housing and deliver on community economic development projects that are specifically designed to support Portlanders whose families have been impacted by the city’s past actions, especially Black Portlanders.”

About 70% of the increase will go to Portland Housing Bureau for affordable housing, with the other 30% allocated to Prosper Portland, the city’s development commission, officials said. All of the developments would take place within the Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area in inner North/Northeast Portland.

A pedestrian walks along a vacant city lot near Russell Street and Williams Avenue in North Portland (Jonathan House/Pamplin Media Group).

Two sites owned by the city would be developed for affordable housing units — both in the form of homes-to-buy and rental units. One is located at the corner of N Alberta and Williams, formerly owned by the Strong family (.97 acres), and another is at Carey Boulevard in North Portland (2.93 acres), according to Portland Housing Bureau Director Shannon Callahan.

Up to $10-15 million of that $67 million increase in tax increment financing could also be made available to help develop the site of the 1.7 acre block near N Russell and Williams, according to Prosper Portland’s Executive Director Kimberly Branam. The long vacant site was planned for Emanuel Legacy’s expansion which never came to pass. 

The vote comes after a group opposing the amendment, called Emanuel Displaced Person Association 2, voiced their concerns the proposed increase in funding did not address an unmet restitution agreement between the city and those who were displaced.

From the 1950s-70s, Portland’s urban renewal projects razed hundreds of homes and businesses of Black families in inner North/Northeast Portland for projects like the building of Interstate 5 in the 1960s and an unfulfilled expansion of Emanuel Legacy hospital in the 1970s. 

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