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The Central City 2035 Plan Discussion Draft is released, revealing a fresh vision for the heart of the city just in time for Valentine’s Day

At the heart of the city and the region, Portland’s Central City is home to more than 32,000 people and 123,000 jobs in less than five square miles. From the West End and Lloyd to South Downtown and the Central Eastside, its 10 different neighborhoods offer residents, employees and visitors a variety of cultural, educational, employment and recreational opportunities.

But as Portland grows, becomes more diverse and experiences the effects of climate change, the city’s center will face new and increasing challenges.

The Central City 2035 Plan (CC2035) aims to meet those challenges, while improving and building upon past plans and traditions. The Plan lays the groundwork for a prosperous, healthy, equitable and resilient Central City, where people can collaborate, innovate and create a better future together.

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Review the CC2035 Discussion Draft

Key Elements of the Plan

A place to call home…

More and more people are calling Central City their home. With the transformation of the Pearl District into a thriving, walkable neighborhood, we know the Central City can be more than just a place to work, go to school or recreate. It’s actually a really great place to live. Other Central City neighborhoods are poised to become similarly vibrant (think South Waterfront and the Lloyd District), with housing close to jobs, shops, restaurants, transit, parks and other amenities.

Today, roughly 30 percent of the housing in the city center is affordable. The new plan aims to maintain this percentage with a bonus system to spur the construction of more affordable housing.

Employment Center for the Region

The Plan supports economic development strategies and programs to facilitate economic growth in the Central City. It builds on the connection — created by Tilikum Crossing — between the emerging industries in the Central Eastside with OHSU and PSU and encourages a range of businesses to locate in the area, particularly technology and research/development firms.

What was initially allowed as an interim use on underutilized surface parking lots, food carts have become small business stepping stones and a part of Portland's vibrant culture. The plan recognizes the value of food carts to the economy and calls for developing a strategy to accommodate them in other ways, as surface parking lots transform into mixed use buildings with retail, office and residential units. New transportation infrastructure will support residents, businesses and freight operations. And new land use tools will help expand commerce on and along the Willamette River.

New Bonus and Transfer System

The City’s priorities for affordable housing and historic preservation get a boost with the Plan, which capitalizes on more floor area (FAR) and height — but protects iconic views of Mt. Hood and other treasured sites with firm height limits. The Plan creates a new affordable housing fund and bonus that creates fees to be spent on creating more units for people of all ages and incomes.

Green Loop

For casual cyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities, a proposed six-mile open space path around the Central City (outside the Greenway Trail) will offer people a chance to stroll, run or ride bikes through parks and neighborhood business districts. The “Green Loop” is part of a larger effort to repurpose public rights-of-way into community spaces. It will connect many of the city’s civic and cultural institutions and link Downtown’s iconic park sequences to the rest of Portland.

21st-century Central Eastside

The 2035 Plan also lays the groundwork for the Innovation Quadrant in the southern end of the Central City, where industry in the Central Eastside Industrial District and academic researchers at OHSU, PSU and others can collaborate and thrive. The Plan can spur new job opportunities for workers with a variety of different interests, skills and education levels and improves access to growing high tech, light manufacturing and software jobs. This will be achieved largely through increased job densities with more flexible employment zones in the Central Eastside.

Height and Views

Finally, the Plan retains the successful building height pattern from 1970 but allows taller buildings along the Transit Mall (SW 5th and 6th streets). It will protect public view corridors of treasured sites like Mt. Hood from viewpoints at Tilikum Crossing and other key vantage points. It establishes height limits and new regulations within historic districts to ensure compatibility with existing historic character. And it retains the basic “step down” to the Willamette River, parks and adjacent neighborhoods, but allows greater height around bridgeheads to increase development potential and activate the waterfront. See the CC2035 MapApp for site-specific information about height and FAR. 

Willamette River and the Environment

New land use tools will help protect, provide access to and activate the Willamette River and its banks. The Plan includes a bonus to allow more development height in exchange for riverfront open space, applies an environmental overlay, expands the river setback, and allows some small retail structures in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. 

Learn more. Join the conversation.

To learn more about the draft Plan, Portlanders are invited to view it online, attend an open house on either the east or west side of the Willamette River … and more.

Attend an open house:

  City of Portland Bldg 1900 SW 4th Ave Olympic Mills Bldg107 SE Washington St
Ongoing lobby displays; staff available daily 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Feb 22 – 26 Feb 29 – March 4
Open houses with breakout sessions to dig into complex topics Feb 24, 4 – 7 p.m. March 2, 4 – 7 p.m.

Community meetings: Staff will be visiting neighborhood associations, business and trade associations, and other groups during February and March. View the project calendar to see details for scheduled meetings.

Request a meeting or presentation: We will do our best to attend meetings upon request. Email us at cc2035@portlandoregon.gov to request a presentation.

Comment on the CC2035 Discussion Draft
Your feedback is welcome from February 9 – March 31, 2016.

Subsequent drafts of the plan and public hearings

Staff will consider comments on the Discussion Draft as they develop a Proposed Draft for the Planning and Sustainability Commission, which will hold public hearings in June. The PSC will vote to recommend a draft to City Council, and more hearings will be heard in front of that body in the fall.

Questions? Contact the Central City Team: 503-823-4286, cc2035@portlandoregon.gov