Urban renewal is a state-authorized, redevelopment and finance program designed to help communities improve and redevelop areas that are physically deteriorated, suffering economic stagnation, unsafe or poorly planned.
The Portland Development Commission plays a major role in making Portland one of America’s most livable cities, using urban renewal as a tool to focus public attention and resources in specific areas of the city. PDC helps Portland realize capital projects – parks, streetscape improvements, community centers –that would not happen on their own.
PDC leads the planning and implementation of comprehensive projects that fulfill Portland’s goal of creating healthy, vibrant neighborhoods throughout the city. The agency focuses on implementing plans unique to each urban renewal area, using an integrated approach to revitalization that includes commercial, retail/institutional, residential/mixed use, streets, mass transit and parks development.
Since its establishment in 1958 as the city’s urban renewal agency, PDC has managed 25 urban renewal areas and/or programs, primarily locally funded. The four earliest, and federally funded urban renewal projects were the Albina Neighborhood Improvement Plan, Portland State Urban Renewal, Emanuel Hospital Urban Renewal, and the Model Cities/Neighborhood Development Program. The remaining areas, with debt funding via local taxes, conform with current URA definitions and include three closed/debt-retired areas (South Auditorium, NW Front Avenue, St. Johns), eleven existing URAs, and the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative Districts.
In March 2015, a set of amendments to six URAs resulted in releasing approximately $122 million in property taxes to taxing jurisdictions and providing $97 million to PDC to invest in projects that will compel economic growth and real estate development in the North Macadam and Central Eastside URAs.
Urban renewal continues to evolve to meet the wisdom, goals and community needs of the times.