PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland is kicking off a weekend to celebrate the revitalization and reopening of the downtown district.
The city has organized a weekend of events that are family-friendly including free concerts, a pop-up market and a light display. The weekend is called “Welcome Back to the Heart of Portland.”
“We’re here to applaud our state, city and county to adapt and come back stronger than ever,” Mayor Wheeler said during a press conference to launch the weekend celebrations. “We’re inviting everyone in our community to come celebrate the re-opening of downtown and experience all that Portland has to offer.”
On Saturday, the city will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the Cart Blocks food cart pod at 1:30 p.m. It will mark the opening of 18 food carts from the Alder Street pod, which closed in 2018 to make room for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. At 3 p.m., Pink Martini will perform at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Portland State University President Stephen Percy said PSU will play a large part in helping revitalize downtown Portland by bringing back 25,000 people for the start of the fall term.
“Faculty, staff and students are all looking forward to coming back to the campus after 16 months of being gone. It’s a great shot in the arm for the city but it brings with it a bit of responsibility,” said PSU’s Dean of Business Cliff Allen. “There are hundreds if not thousands of students coming to the university for the first time. This is their first exposure to Portland. We want to make sure it’s a positive one.”
Downtown business owners have said they no longer feel safe amid a steady increase in crime, particularly gun violence. A mass shooting early Saturday morning left an 18-year-old dead and six other people wounded. However, Mayor Wheeler said the downtown district is becoming a safer place to visit because “we’re not seeing some of the regular vandalism, criminal destruction and violence that we saw just a few months ago.”
“Portland has been through a rough spell, there’s still work to do, we’ve turned a corner,” said Wheeler. “In encouraging people to come downtown, we understand there is still work to do but a lot of work has been done and people are safe if they come to downtown Portland.”
The mayor also said he’s working with everyone on the City Council and the county “
to do everything we can to get as many people off the streets who are homeless as quickly and humanely as possible. I encourage people to come this weekend. What they’ll see is a real city, in transition, but with positive momentum and a lot of good things happening. That’s what we want people to see.”