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In the Heart of the City, a Place to Call Home

The second post in a month-long series about ideas for the Central City’s West Quadrant

West Quadrant Housing

The West Quadrant of Portland’s Central City is a place for work, learning and play. While it serves as a major employment hub for the city, it also offers a wide range of recreational activities, fine dining, nightlife, and other amenities that create a lively civic atmosphere. As a result, the West Quadrant has increasingly become an attractive place for residential development with several well-established urban neighborhoods, including the Pearl District and Goose Hollow. 

Future housing development should include a range of affordability and types. Charrette participants expressed interest in targeting particular types of housing in certain areas. For example, family-friendly housing should be targeted in areas with amenities such as parks and schools for children. There are some challenges, however, to achieving diverse, vibrant neighborhoods in the West Quadrant, including available tools to create a range of housing options.

During the West Quadrant Charrette in June, participants identified the need for at least some housing in every district to increase livability and appeal — even in employment-focused areas. There is ample development capacity to accommodate significant new development for housing. But with housing sprinkled more evenly throughout the West Quadrant, better residential services and improved connections to services will be needed.

An example of where this could happen is along the downtown waterfront, near Waterfront Park. At the heart of the city and as the major employment center for the entire metropolitan region, downtown could be a more desirable place to live. More housing near the waterfront could dramatically increase evening and weekend activity in the area, as well as improve public safety and help businesses thrive and attract a diverse workforce.

Portland's west end photo

In the West Quadrant, a great model of a district in which people can work, play and live is the West End, located west of downtown between the Park Blocks and the I-405 freeway. With a diverse mix of housing, employment, entertainment and retail offerings, the West End has transformed in recent years into a culturally rich and desirable neighborhood. While not New York City with round-the-clock activity, the West End features lots of amenities for residents and visitors alike.

Other areas of the West Quadrant could also be transformed into unique places, busy with the bustle of employees heading to or from work — who could also enjoy the offerings of their neighborhood after work and on the weekends.

Creating more residential options and enhancing the West Quadrant’s neighborhoods is just one of the big ideas that came out of the West Quadrant Charrette. Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we feature other themes that emerged from the process. Next up: Active transportation!

From BPS Director Susan Anderson: Easy Livin' in Portland

BPS E-News, August 2013

It’s summertime in Portland – and this fabulous weather and stunning natural beauty really puts the city’s best features on display! So naturally, it’s the time of year that lots of tourists and other visitors come to Portland. You can see them on the streetcar and MAX lines, and walking around the central city armed with a map and backpack.

What’s not to love about the Park Blocks, or Powell’s, Portland State, or Waterfront Park? Residents and tourists alike seek out these signature places because they offer peaceful respite along tree-lined boulevards, or myriad adventures in the many books inside the world’s largest book store, or countless opportunities to experience the Willamette River while listening to music, biking or strolling along the waterfront, or dining al fresco on a warm summer evening.

Great cities are made up of wonderful places like these, where people come together and enjoy urban amenities — like shops, restaurants, parks, bike and walking paths, entertainment, museums — as well as jobs and housing. When they all come together in one place, you get a vibrant city center.

The west side of Portland’s Central City has all of these amenities – but we also know it could have more.

Currently, we’re working on making the Central City a place with more livable neighborhoods — neighborhoods being the key word. A place with not just jobs, but different kinds of housing to provide for our growing population, more parks for kids and families, and more grocery stores and other services to meet residents’ daily needs. We’re also trying to create more opportunities for businesses —  large and small — to find a niche and fill it. And, provide safer, greener ways to get around — for transportation and recreation.

In June, Central City planners held a week-long charrette to find ways to help the West Quadrant (which runs from the River District to South Waterfront and Goose Hollow to Old Town/Chinatown) to the next level of urban evolution. Working with colleagues and partners from other bureaus — such as  Parks, Environmental Services, Development Services, Transportation, Housing Bureau, Development Services and Portland Development Commission — the project team guided participants through a process to generate new ideas for a more livable, attractive and prosperous central west side. Advisory committee members of the CC2035 Concept Plan and West Quadrant Plan, as well as PSU planners and students, the Portland Business Alliance, social service agencies, neighborhood residents, business owners and others joined the work sessions at strategic points along the way.

What emerged from this highly collaborative process was an affirmation of some old ideas that are working well, and some new concepts to lead Portland to a more prosperous and healthy future. A recap of the charrette is included in our Central City story in this issue.

I’d like to thank our partners and fellow collaborators for their contributions to this exciting work. Their passion for the West Quadrant is shared by many people in the community who have a goal for a more vibrant, livable place to work and live.

Here’s to a long-lasting and sunny summer!


susan anderson signature

Susan Anderson


City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

You'll see spots at SE Sunday Parkways

BPS E-News, August 2013

man holding signGreen Spot is a new feature at the SE Sunday Parkways on August 25, presented by the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. If you plan to be out on your bike that day, look for the six Green Spots along the Sunday Parkways route will showcase sustainable features of a healthy, connected neighborhood.

"As west coast cities like Portland continue to grow and develop, “green spots” like these are essential investments to create more vibrant and livable neighborhoods for generations to come," said Alisa Kane, BPS green building program manager. 

SE Sunday Parkways riders who stop at a Green Spot will learn about solar, composting and recycling, accessory dwelling units, home energy efficiency, the local sharing economy, and food and garden options. Kids and adults can collect stickers and win prizes.

At the sustainable food stop, the Green Spot team will distribute free packets of vegetable seeds, courtesy of a generous donation from Seeds of Change.

Want to see more spots?

Learn how to create more spots in your neighborhood. Visit

Planning charrettes generate big ideas for the Central City

BPS E-News, August 2013

Char • rette \ shuh-ret \ n. an intense period of design or planning activity, often used to bring together multiple stakeholders and generate many ideas during one timeframe. Derived from a French term meaning small cart, "charrette" refers to a cart pushed through the drawing studios whenever final projects were due at the famous architecture school Ecoles des Beaux Arts in Paris. It was not uncommon for 19th-century French architecture students to be frantically finishing presentations "en charrette."

While the mood was more about focused collaboration than frantic individual efforts during two recent BPS-led planning charrettes, participants literally rolled up their sleeves to help forge a new vision for the southeast and west quadrants of Portland’s Central City.


West Quadrant Plan charrette focuses on river, housing, pedestrians and cyclists

Home to the oldest neighborhoods and tallest buildings in the City of Portland, the western part of Portland’s Central City is a diverse and eclectic place. The West Quadrant Plan aims to guide the next 20 to 25 years of growth, development and major investments in the area. Roughly at mid-point in the planning process, the project team convened a charrette to synthesize the research and ideas gathered so far with stakeholders and the public in order to move into the next phase of the project ― concept planning.

Over the course of a week in June, BPS staff, colleagues from other bureaus, stakeholders, community members as well as planning consultants brainstormed new approaches to planning for the many unique areas in the West Quadrant. For instance, they considered entertainment in Old Town/Chinatown, the emerging retail needs in the University District, neighborhood services in Goose Hollow and new residential opportunities in the Downtown core.

Some of the major themes that emerged from the charrette include:

  • Rethink connections and access to the Willamette River, including possible improvements to Waterfront Park.
  • Increase opportunities for residential development throughout the quadrant.
  • Create a more well-defined bicycle and pedestrian system to ensure safe and efficient movement through the quadrant for all travelers.


Colorful maps, beautiful sketches and the report from the WQP charrette are included in the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting #5 packet .

The West Quadrant Plan project team is refining quadrant-level concept maps and will share them at a public open house in September. For information about the project in general and to sign up for project updates, please visit the project webpage.


Inner Southeast MAX station areas have their own charrette

Earlier this summer, the SE Quadrant Plan kicked off with the Inner SE Station Area Planning process, which will update the vision and long-range plan for the areas around the four new close-in light rail stations at OMSI, Clinton, Rhine and Holgate. In June and July, property and business owners, residents, employees and other stakeholders gathered at community meetings and neighborhood walks to discuss the future character of the area, and opportunities and challenges associated with the new light rail stations.

Building on that community feedback, the project team held a three-day concept development charrette and open house in the Central Eastside from August 20-22. During the first two days of the charrette, staff and consultants worked with area stakeholders to develop alternative land use, urban design and transportation concepts for the four station areas. Staff then shared the results of the work from the charrette with the public at an open house.

Find out more about the Station Area Charrette.

In addition to the close-in southeast station areas on the new Portland-Milwaukie light rail alignment, the SE Quadrant and Inner SE Station Area Planning process will involve detailed planning for the entire Central Eastside District of the Central City.

The SE Quadrant Plan process, which will formally begin in the fall of 2013, is an element of the broader Central City 2035 (CC2035) project to update the 1988 Central City Plan. It will examine the long-term role and character of the Central Eastside, exploring ways to leverage new investment with an emphasis on increasing employment opportunities and revitalizing mixed-use corridors. As a result of this effort, new policies, urban design concepts and potential zoning updates will emerge to guide future growth and development.

For more information, please visit