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City Council Adopts New Chinatown/Japantown Design Guidelines

Portland City Council voted 4-0 on September 28, 2017, to adopt the new ImageChinatown/Japantown Historic District Design Guidelines as approval criteria for additions, alterations and new construction projects in Portland’s only designated historic district significant for ethnic history. Although the district was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, City staff and the Historic Landmarks Commission have since relied on general Central City approval criteria to review rehabilitation and infill projects in the district. With the adoption of district-specific design approval criteria, applicants, staff and the interested public will now have greater clarity on how alteration, addition and new construction projects can authentically honor New Chinatown/Japantown’s ethnic and architectural history. The new guidelines become effective on October 28, 2017.

The design guidelines were developed over the past 18 months by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Prosper Portland, a 10-member stakeholder advisory committee and the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission. Special thanks are owed to those who volunteered on the project’s stakeholder advisory committee:

  • Jackie Peterson—Old Town Chinatown Community Association 
  • Joren Bass—Urban Development + Partners
  • Katherine Schultz—Guardian Real Estate Services 
  • Will Naito—Naito Development LLC
  • Brian Kimura—Nikkei Legacy Center
  • Neil Lee—Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association
  • Hermann Colas—Colas Construction
  • Hillary Adam—Bureau of Development Services
  • Peggy Moretti—Restore Oregon
  • Matthew Roman—Portland Historic Landmarks Commission

The final, adopted design guidelines can be downloaded from the Design Guidelines Library.