Portland’s city center is about to get a makeover. As City Council prepares to consider the Central City 2035 Plan and related public testimony, here are the key takeaways from more than seven years of planning — with input from over 8,000 community members.
#10. Jobs and housing growth
Over the next 20 years, the Central City will grow by 163 percent, from 23,000 to 60,500 households. Jobs will also increase — from 123,000 to 174,000 (41 percent). So where will all those new people live and work? Through allowed increases in density, especially at key station areas in the Central Eastside and Transit Mall, CC2035 lays the groundwork for 37,500 new housing units and 51,000 new jobs.
#9. Ups and downs of height
Taller buildings mean more square feet for offices and housing. Through a bonus and transfer system, CC2035 will allow developers to gain extra height in areas like the Transit Mall, Morrison and Hawthorne bridgeheads, South Pearl and Lloyd District — when they provide a public benefit like affordable housing. To protect scenic views and historic districts, some decreases in building height are also proposed.
#8. Making what’s old resilient for tomorrow
The Central City is full of wonderful old buildings, many of which are constructed of unreinforced masonry (brick) and would likely not survive a major earthquake. CC2035 offers a revised floor area ratio transfer program to incentivize the rehabilitation and seismic update of designated historic resources.
#7. Addressing the river
Until now, Portland’s smaller rivers and streams have received more protection than the Willamette. With CC2035, we’ll care for the city’s signature physical feature with the same level of attention by doubling the width of the river setback and applying a river environmental overlay zone to “avoid, minimize and mitigate” for impacts to natural resources.
#6. Caring for the trees
Along with the Willamette running through the city center, Portland is renowned for its tree canopy (nearly 38 percent of the total land area). But some portions of the city center, like the Central Eastside, lack trees and the cooling effects of their shade. CC2035 includes targets for all districts to increase tree canopy. This will help cool the air, manage stormwater runoff, increase habitat for birds and other critters while creating a more pleasant streetscape.
#5. The Green Loop
And speaking of green, one of the CC2035 “big ideas” is the Green Loop, a six-mile linear park that connects neighborhoods all over Portland to Central City attractions. Think Sunday Parkways every day, offering people of all ages and abilities a new way to experience the urban core. A 21st-century public works project, the loop will support thousands of new housing units and jobs along with a growing community of walkers, bikers, rollers and strollers.
#4. Green buildings
With CC2035, the Central City’s buildings will be greener, too, ensuring a more biophilic, resilient Portland. New regulations will require certain buildings to seek green certification (e.g., LEED or Green Globes) and install ecoroofs for air cooling and stormwater management, as well as bird-safe window treatments to help prevent bird strikes.
#3. Freighters, makers and employment land acres
The Central Eastside and Clinton Triangle have been the most dynamic and evolving part of the Central City. Over the past decade, this area has been an economic development success story, with more than 17,000 jobs in an expanding range of industries. CC2035 aims to protect the character of the Central Eastside with strategies to balance the needs of traditional and new uses within the district.
#2. More places to eat and rent things on the riverfront
CC2035 opens up parks and open spaces to a few small retail venues like refreshment stands and rental kiosks. So you’ll be able to rent a kayak while eating ice cream at Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park, for instance.
#1. Community input
And, finally, number one. You, the people of Portland. CC2035 would not have been possible without the thousands of community members who provided input on the plan, served on advisory committees, attended public events, participated in charrettes and expressed their love and concern for our city center. This plan is for you and the many others yet to come.
So take a peek. It’s big, comprising six volumes — and the volumes have parts! But you’ll see more of what’s in store for the urban core over the next 25 years.
Pick the volume or chapter that interests you and then tell City Council what you think. Public hearings are scheduled for September 7, but you can comment on the map app, via email or send a letter any time between now and then.