Colleges reshape North Park Blocks
Premium content from Portland Business Journal by Wendy Culverwell , Business Journal staff writer
Date: Friday, May 4, 2012, 3:00am PDT - Last Modified: Thursday, May 3, 2012, 1:58pm PDT
Specialty colleges are staking their futures in downtown Portland’s edgiest neighborhood.
The Oregon College of Oriental Medicine , the Pacific Northwest College of Art and Pensole Footwear Design Academy have or will soon join the University of Oregon near the North Park Blocks in the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood.
The latest arrivals will add more than 1,000 college students and hundreds of instructors and staff members to an overlooked neighborhood on downtown’s northern edge.
It’s “absolutely” good news, said Paul Verhoeven, executive director of the Portland Saturday Market and co-chair of the Old Town Chinatown Neighborhood Association’s land use committee.
Enter the 511 Building. Four years ago, the U.S. General Services Administration awarded the historic building to PNCA under a program that donates surplus property to schools.
The federal law enforcement agencies that used the building have slowly been moving out. When the last one leaves this year, PNCA will invest some $30 million to transform the dreary-looking structure.
PNCA will likely sell its current building in the Pearl District.
Thanks to new arrivals such as OCOM and PNCA and others, the North Park Blocks and Old Town are at a tipping point, said Scott Andrews, chairman of the Portland Development Commission and president of Melvin Mark Property Management Co. Cos.