Created by Portland voters in 1958, PDC plays a major role in making Portland one of America's most livable cities. As Portland’s economic development and urban renewal agency, PDC is pursuing an aggressive strategy to create one of the world’s most desirable and equitable cities by investing in job creation, innovation and economic opportunity throughout Portland.
In 1958, the citizens of Portland voted to create the Portland Development Commission (see the City Charter, Chapter 15). The Commission's day-to-day functions are carried out through its Executive Director, Leadership Team, managers and support staff. The agency is a department of the City and its executive director reports to the Commission. You can read more about PDC leadership including photos and brief bios.
The Commission, as a whole, is governed by a five-member board of Commissioners (often referred to as PDC’s Board) who are all local citizens appointed by the mayor and approved by City Council. Following approval by the PDC Commission, urban renewal districts, bond sales, major projects and program changes are also reviewed and approved by City Council. PDC's Board of Commissioners is governed by these by-laws.
PDC’s structure is unique nationally, offering a greater degree of coordination than other major cities where urban renewal, economic development and redevelopment issues are dispersed among several agencies.
PDC’s reporting structure—to PDC’s Board rather than directly to the mayor or other city commissioner—was created to allow the agency to implement programs and focus resources independently and not at the direction of any one city commissioner.
PDC’s primary source of funding for projects and programs are debt proceeds generated through the use of tax increment financing. Approximately 90% of our resources come in tax increment debt proceeds, with additional funding coming from federal and other grants, program income earned on asset management, contracts for services, City of Portland General Fund allocations, and lending agreements.
Our mission is to create one of the world’s most desirable and equitable cities by investing in job creation, innovation and economic opportunity throughout Portland. We accomplish this by targeting our investment of public funds to stimulate private sector investment, job creation and expansion of the tax base. PDC’s work in the River District urban renewal area is an excellent example. Home to the Pearl District, Old Town/Chinatown and swaths of grittier, industrial properties, the River District URA has experienced phenomenal growth since 2001. Twenty years ago, what we know as the Pearl District was a derelict, underused railroad yard and warehousing area. Today, it’s an internationally-recognized success story – just one of the highlights of PDC’s work in the River District, which has included public investment in an array of neighborhood parks, new roads and parking facilities, affordable and catalyzing market-rate housing and innovative projects that maintain the vibrancy of Portland’s downtown core. Much of the URA’s 350 acres have been transformed into a high density urban neighborhood with a lively mix of residents and businesses, major office spaces, regional attractions, retail, parks and open spaces.
That transformation has also included redevelopment of the historic Meier & Frank department store in the retail core south of Burnside and supporting the important connection between the River District and downtown Portland.
PDC’s role was to put in place the appropriate infrastructure that would allow private development to go forward. In the final analysis, 90 percent of the funding for River District development has come from private sources. Since the inception of the district in FY 1999-2000, its assessed value has grown by $1.7 billion.
Urban renewal is a state-sanctioned program designed to help communities improve and redevelop areas that are physically deteriorated, unsafe, or poorly planned. The Portland Development Commission (PDC), the city’s urban renewal agency, uses urban renewal as a tool to help specific areas of the city realize capital projects—parks, streetscape improvements, community centers, and the like—that would not happen on their own.
The Urban Renewal line item shown on tax statements received by property owners within the City of Portland represents the amount collected for urban renewal activities. This amount is a combination of PDC’s share of taxes assessed by taxing jurisdictions including the city, the county, and schools, and an urban renewal tax assessed by the City of Portland against all taxable property within the City of Portland. The urban renewal line item on your bill is not a new tax.
PDC's office is located in Portland's Old Town/Chinatown district.
Portland Development Commission 222 NW Fifth Ave
Portland, OR 97209-3859
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All PDC activities are guided by a budget developed by staff in conjunction with citizens, City Council, and various community partners. The budget spells out the specific work program of the city’s urban renewal areas listed below as well as the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative Districts and the Education URA, created in 2012.
If you would like a copy of PDC’s budget, you may download it from our Budget page, or contact our Public Affairs Department.
PDC has a staff of approximately 85.
Members of each department work in teams to deliver the full range of services PDC offers throughout the city. We also deliver job and industry development programs throughout the region.
You can find more information about PDC’s five citizen commissioners on our Leadership page.
PDC conducts business at public meetings held on the second Wednesday of the month at 3:00 p.m. and the fourth Wednesday of the month at 8:00 a.m. at PDC offices, 222 NW Fifth Ave., in downtown Portland. For more information on PDC’s monthly meetings, contact the Public Affairs office at 503-823-3224 or view the online Commission Meeting schedule.
In general, PDC business finance programs address the need for tenant improvements, equipment purchase, façade improvements, property development and rehabilitation, real estate acquisition, credit enhancement, property feasibility study, and working capital. Companies unable to obtain adequate funds from private lenders may be eligible for a PDC loan. For more information about business loans through PDC take a look at our Financial Support page, or contact us via phone at 503-823-3442.
PDC is headed by Executive Director Kimberly Branam.
PDC has several divisions reporting to the executive director. Read more about our division directors.
PDC projects are some of the most well-known in the city:
Urban renewal is a state-authorized tool to invest property tax revenues in projects that ultimately result in higher property values in a designated urban renewal area, and which draw private investment that stimulates economic growth, job creation, and broader prosperity throughout the city.
Typically, cities designate an urban renewal agency with the authority to raise and leverage money to help revitalize neighborhoods. The Portland Development Commission is that agency for the City of Portland. PDC was established by City Charter in 1958.
The urban renewal process, very simplified, involves:
Tax Increment Financing is one of PDC's primary sources of urban renewal funding. PDC has been using this tool since the late 1970s. When the city defines an urban renewal boundary, the county assessor "freezes" the assessed value of real property within the urban renewal district. Urban renewal districts raise money by borrowing against future growth in property taxes. The city uses the borrowed money to pay for capital improvements, which spur more development. As the city and others invest in the urban renewal area, property values go up. The property taxes above those that were collected when the values were "frozen" – the tax increment - are used to repay the loans used for the improvements in the urban renewal area. When the urban renewal district expires in 20-25 years, the intent is to return a much higher property tax base to the tax rolls.
In accordance with Oregon State Law, PDC records are available for inspection and/or copying by the public, unless specifically exempted from disclosure by state statute.
PDC’s Investment in Parking Garages
PDC focuses its investments on healthy, connected neighborhoods with transportation options, as well as on economic growth and central city vibrancy – all based on public plans and public input.
Our investments in parking garages are made with the long term in mind and are anchored to community-driven strategies and shared public goals for economic growth. As with all PDC projects, all such investments aim to achieve community priorities, including broad economic benefit, community vibrancy and sustainability, and are developed to align with publicly driven plans such as the Central City 2035, Climate Action, and various urban renewal area plans. PDC’s business equity goals for construction, promoting the use of minority contractors, are also key elements of any investment in parking infrastructure.
Funds directed toward garage projects complement other PDC investments and do not take the place of the city’s significant investment in affordable housing which is the purview of the Portland Housing Bureau, and to which PDC has contributed more than $100 million over the past five years.
According to the City’s projections, “by 2035, we expect to have 122,000 more households, 135,000 more jobs, and 1.2 million more daily trips. To maintain Portland’s quality of life, we must find ways to grow gracefully. That means finding new ways to manage parking and its effects on air quality, traffic congestion, housing and real estate development, equity, and economic vitality.”
As we grow, the City does not anticipate eliminating parking but rather reducing vehicle travel and parking spaces per capita and promoting desired compact development and people’s use of non-auto travel choices through various policies and investments.
Public and Partner Input
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