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Gateway education center proposed

Full of baked and half-baked plans, the Gateway Urban Renewal process lumbers forward featuring a preliminary plan to build a 3-acre education center servicing area high schools, Mt. Hood Community College and even Portland State University


Aside from the proposed new park site on Northeast Halsey Street at 106th Avenue, little is actually happening in the Gateway urban renewal district. However, planning efforts to initiate action are proceeding on some fronts.

At last month's Gateway Park design open house, the Portland Development Commission solicited neighbors - big and little - for their design ideas, part of the master plan creation process and the first step to realizing the new park. However, like other proposed Mid-county parks, Beech, Clatsop Butte and Parklane, there are no funds to build in “park deficient” east Portland.
Business Development Strategy: The consulting firms Applied Development Economic, Inc., Marketek and Parametrix have been hired to establish a Business Development Strategy for Gateway, confirmed Portland Development Commission staffer Estee Segal to the Gateway Urban Renewal Program Advisory Committee last month. The team will consider the strengths and weaknesses of Gateway as compared to other commercial areas and develop a strategy for economic growth. As part of this effort, she said, they will conduct outreach to businesses and landowners starting in August and hold an Economic Summit on Oct. 15. They will also look at recent development projects and review plans made over the last “five or 10 years” relating to development, Segal said, as a reminder that so far numerous plans have been made to promote development in Gateway with little to show for them. Acknowledging this, Segal said that in the past “the focus has been on physical issues related to the land.” This time the team will be considering “business growth and potential,” she said. PDC Program Manager Justin Douglas added, “Until now we have had a hard time finding businesses that can take advantage of the economic programs we have to offer.” PAC member Frieda Christopher said, “In the past there's been too much time spent sharing information, too little listening to the community.” She also complained that in the past, PDC and the city have put efforts into businesses that offer only low-wage jobs, and the oft-used open house format - in which community members talk to staff individually - does not lend itself to open discussions. Hazelwood Neighborhood Association Chair and PAC member Arlene Kimura had another issue: “I don't want this to just sit on a shelf.”

Justin Douglas, Portland Development Commission's senior project coordinator, answers neighbors' questions about the proposed park at Northeast 106th Avenue and Halsey Street. From left, Reggie Kertz, Donna Stanton, Amy Antonio and Jereme Claussen.
Gateway education center: This project, which Tim Brunner of the Axis Design Group discussed with PAC last month, has more specifics. To further the needs of the Parkrose and David Douglas school districts, Mount Hood Community College and Portland State University, the project proposes to develop a 3-acre parcel of land owned by developer Ted Gilbert, situated south of the Gateway Transit Center at Northeast 99th Avenue and Pacific Street where an apartment complex currently occupies most of the property. While cautioning that the work so far is “very preliminary, there is nothing real about this yet,” Gilbert commented that all four institutions have expressed interest in a joint development there, and said he is quite amenable to such a project there. So far, possible uses include training facilities for various workforce professions, and a library that could be used by the public as well as the institutions.

East Portland Action Plan: Russell Neighborhood Association Chair Bonny McKnight had a question for East Portland Action Plan coordinator Lore Wintergreen: How can more EPAP activity be focused on the northern part of the area? EPAP, adopted by City Council last year, laid out 268 action projects to be completed. One of the highest priorities, funded through an appropriation by the council, was Wintergreen's hiring as a coordinator and advocate for the completion of these projects. She noted that the Plan had helped in the creation of a new pedestrian crossing on Northeast Sacramento Street at 122nd Avenue, as part of the Russell Academy Safer Routes to School project. Equally important, she said, were maneuverings for the placement of members of the Plan's advisory committee and subcommittees on key city advisory groups that look at overall programs. “I want each city bureau to be thinking about east Portland when they plan their projects,” she said. McKnight and Wintergreen both noted that in other areas where the city has succeeded in making public and private “improvements” and “upgrades,” the result has been gentrification, with rents and values rising too high for some existing residents to be able to afford to continue living there. A counter strategy, Wintergreen said, is to put programs in place that at least help existing businesses and residents to remain in the area. “You have about five years to create a footprint before it happens here,” she said.
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