Posted: Jun 21, 2012, 9:56 PM
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Join Date: May 2005
Courtesy City of PortlandHigh density development along Northeast Clackamas Street as envisioned by the N/NE Quadrant Plan.
Rose Quarter plan would ease height, zoning rules
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012, 12:41 PM Updated: Thursday, June 21, 2012, 2:00 PM
Cornelius Swart, The Oregonian
A revised plan for redeveloping the Rose Quarter, the Oregon Convention Center and the Lloyd District re-envisions the area as a walkable, high-density urban district with some of the tallest buildings in the city.
Under the plan, a cap across Interstate 5 and a pedestrian/bike bridge would connect the Lloyd District and the Rose Quarter.
The buildings near the east side of the Broadway Bridge could be up to 325 feet tall, and those near the convention center could reach near 400 feet.
The N/NE Quadrant and I-5 Broadway/Weidler Plans, a joint effort by the state and Portland, has no identified sources of funding. But Portland project managers believe easing height and zoning restrictions would encourage private investment.
A draft plan for $400 million worth of transportation projects, including an I-5 widening between I-405 and I-84, was completed June 13.
"In the past we've done a good job redeveloping areas using light rail and streetcar," said project manager Steve Iwata. "This is a new paradigm. By working with ODOT we have a chance to do something centered on a freeway."
Iwata said the new height allowances are a response to the challenge of working in areas without the urban renewal tools used to redevelop the Pearl District, South Waterfront and downtown.
"The Oregon Convention Center Urban Renewal Area expires in 2013," Iwata said. "So we have to look at new incentives for redevelopment."
The plan would loosen zoning constraints in the Lower Albina Industrial Area north of Northeast Broadway and allow for commercial uses such as film production, back-office space and retail.
Areas along the North Vancouver/Williams Avenue corridor and the site of the Portland Public Schools headquarters on North Dixon Street would receive flexible zoning to encourage investment.
State and city officials are looking toward future federal transportation budgets for money to pay for freeway improvements.
Nonetheless, development in the area appears to be proceeding. Work has begun on a Memorial Coliseum renovation. And in March, Langley Investment Properties announced plans for a 750 apartment development in the Lloyd District.
Iwata said he believes lifting height restrictions might help long-delayed ambitions for a convention center headquarters hotel become a reality.
Not everyone has been happy with the changes, though.
Members of the nearby Irvington Community Association have successfully lobbied to have the plan's height limits lowered from 100 feet to 75 along Northeast Schuyler Street, on the southern edge of the neighborhood. Further height restrictions are under negotiations.
Dean Gisvold represents the association on the N/NE Quadrant's stakeholders advisory group. Gisvold said he was still reading the latest draft of the plan, released earlier this month, but that he thought the concentration of density in some parts was too much.
"I'm OK with 25 stories in Lloyd District," said Gisvold, who worked on the city's landmark 1971 downtown plan. "I don't think (the proposed heights) have any precedent in the city and certainly not downtown. It's going to cause transportation problems, and it's going to be out of scale."
Gisvold said residents preferred to see more of a Main Street design for Broadway up to the Hollywood District.
Planners said lifting height limits would stimulate growth by capitalizing on views and that growth would be multi-modal in nature, meaning residents were expected to use more transit and bikes to get around the area.
The final draft version is scheduled to go before the Portland City Council in October and the Oregon Transportation Commission in December. The current plan will go before a stakeholders committee at 5:30 p.m. at the Calaroga Terrace Auditorium, 1400 N.E. Second Ave., next Thursday.
-- Cornelius Swart
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