ULI Working with Portland Mayor Hales on Strategy to Enhance the Appeal of the Central Eastside District as a Twenty-First Century Employment Hub Serving a Range of Businesses

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Plan Would Focus on Retaining Traditional Industrial Employers While Attracting New, Emerging Companies

PORTLAND (February 10, 2014) — The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use is in Portland this week working with Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and several local public officials to initiate the creation of strategy to position the Central Eastside District (CES) as a twenty-first century business district offering sufficient flexibility to serve longtime industrial employers as well as new, emerging industries.

ULI, comprised of more than 30,000 of the globe’s leading authorities on real estate and urban development, is a research and education institute dedicated to responsible land use and building thriving communities worldwide. Its Rose Center works with public officials throughout the United States to encourage and support excellence in land use decision making. By providing public officials with access to information, best practices, peer networks, and other resources, the Rose Center seeks to foster creative, efficient, practical, and sustainable land use policies.

Mayor Hales and his team – Leah Treat, director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation; Patrick Quinton, executive director for the Portland Development Commission; Susan Anderson, director of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability — are serving as 2013-2014 fellows for the Rose Center. Through the fellowship program, participants receive leadership training and professional development opportunities, and they work with ULI to address local land use challenges.

The challenge for the city of Portland, identified by Mayor Hales and his team, is to build on the success of the CES in retaining existing businesses while attracting new ones. The CES, with currently houses more than 1,100 companies and 17,000 jobs, continued to thrive during the recession and has become the location of choice in Portland for many employers, who are drawn to its historic industrial architecture, affordable space, and close proximity to the city’s business core.

This week, Rose Center representatives are visiting Portland to meet with Mayor Hales and his team to tour the CES, talk with community and civic leaders and other stakeholders, and begin crafting a plan to continue the district’s momentum .They will be identifying the optimal mix of policy and zoning changes, and strategic public investments to bolster the future success of the CES in conjunction with the opening in 2015 of a new light rail line serving the district. They will be considering such factors as:

  • How the city’s economy and employment base could change over time;
  • New real estate market prototypes that could offer flexibility and adaptability;
  • How to minimize displacement of existing industrial uses while encouraging new employers;
  • How transit can best support existing industrial businesses while also facilitating denser job growth in industrial districts; and
  • Where and how public investments should be made.

According to ULI Rose Center Executive Director Jess Zimbabwe, this work represents an excellent opportunity to enhance the offerings of the CES to ensure that it adapts to changing economies and business needs in the decades ahead. “We are very excited to work with Mayor Hales and his team to strengthen the potential of this district as a key component of Portland’s overall economic success,” Zimbabwe said.

“The complex issues emerging in the Central Eastside area — including right-of-way, economic development and long-range land use — are good problems to have,” said Mayor Hales. “As we develop the new 25-year plan for the Southeast Quadrant, the insight and resources of the Urban Land Institute will help us dive into these issues at the leadership level to make sure we get it right.”

The Daniel Rose Fellowship is the flagship program of the Rose Center, established in 2008 by the ULI Foundation Governor Daniel Rose. The Center aims to empower leaders in the public sector to envision, build and sustain successful 21st century communities by providing access to information, best practices, peer networks and other resources to foster creative, efficient and sustainable land use practices.

Portland is one of four cities selected for the 2013-2014 Rose fellowships, along with Honolulu, Indianapolis and Memphis. The purpose of the fellowship program is to provide city leaders with the insights, peer-to-peer learning, and analysis needed to successfully improve their cities. The fellowship begins with the selection of four city mayors. Each mayor then nominates three additional fellows to serve on their city’s fellowship team. The mayors’ team members are made up of city department leaders or public agency directors with land use decision-making authority. The fellowship’s program of work includes a study tour of another U.S. or foreign city, a working retreat, and study visits to each of the four fellowship cities.

NOTE TO EDITORS AND REPORTERS: Representatives of the Rose Center will be making a public presentation with preliminary findings regarding the CES from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. PST on Thursday, February 13th, at the Eastside Exchange, NE Third Street in Portland.

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