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Portland's Central Eastside: An Industrial Sanctuary

In 1988, the Central Eastside was adopted as an official district of the Central City with new policy direction to “Preserve the Central Eastside as an industrial sanctuary . . . .” Consequently, various zoning tools were adopted to promote industrial uses throughout the district, with the exception of main street and mixed-use corridors, such as Martin Luther King Blvd, Grand Ave and Burnside.

Are these policies still working in the Central Eastside? For the most part, yes. The district is home to more than 17,000 jobs, most in traditional industrial sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, and industrial services.

However, the Central Eastside has become increasingly attractive to other uses, such as Portland’s growing knowledge and design businesses, due to its older industrial buildings that are well-suited to rehab, gritty urban character and the close-in, central location.

Increasingly brokers, land owners and businesses looking for space in the district seek more zoning flexibility and the ability to locate non-industrial uses within the industrial portions of the district.


Returning to the assumptions that led to the creation of Portland’s industrial sanctuary policy and the Central Eastside, the questions remain:

  •  What is the role of the CES industrial sanctuary in accommodating traditional industrial uses such as manufacturing, as well as emerging and new industries that will evolve the decades ahead?
  • What tools need to be created to fulfill this role to the year 2035 and beyond?
  •  How can the mixed-use corridors be optimized to accommodate more non-industrial users?

This is the thirteenth installment of a blog series aimed at exploring the past, present, and future of the Central Eastside. To learn more about the industrial sanctuary policies in the Central Eastside and the planning efforts for the district, read the Central Eastside Reader and visit the SE Quadrant Plan calendar to learn about future events.