City prepares to realign its urban renewal areas

Portland State University campus, June 10, 2013 (KOIN)
Portland State University campus, June 10, 2013 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The City of Portland is preparing for a major realignment of its urban renewal areas, a change that could mean $25 million of new money for projects at Portland State University (PSU).

As a result of the shrinking of Portland’s urban renewal areas, city officials said six Portland area school districts as well as the City of Portland and Multnomah County will gain additional revenue with the return of more property to normal property tax rolls.

PSU President Wim Wiewel said the realignment of urban renewal area will have skyline changing implications.

Wiewel said one of those potential skyline changes involves the University Place Hotel at SW 3rd Avenue and SW Lincoln Street. An urban renewal boundary change could provide $13 million to PSU to redevelop the 4-acre property into a larger hotel. The move would be made possible by adding PSU to the North Macadam urban renewal area.

Mayor Charlie Hales’ spokesperson Dana Haynes does not believe PSU will be able to use the new money that way.

“We don’t think they will be able to use that money to build buildings,” said Haynes.

Although the new revenue may not be used to construct new buildings, Haynes said new money PSU would get from its inclusion in the North Macadam urban renewal area will free up other money, which would allow the university to construct buildings. PSU’s inclusion would make it eligible for $2 million to renovate PSU’s business school and $2 million to renovate its engineering building.

Over the next 30 years, the decrease in urban renewal areas is expected to help local jurisdictions have more than a billion dollars more than they would if the areas remained in an urban renewal zone.

City officials said shrinking the size of the renewal zones is an acknowledgement that the troubled areas assisted by urban renewal money no longer need the help they once did.

Under the new renewal zones, the Pearl’s urban renewal area will slide further east toward the Willamette River, encompassing more of Old Town Chinatown, an area Hales prioritized for new development.

Portland city council is expected to approve changes to the urban renewal map at its meeting Wednesday. If approved, the changes will go into effect six months after passage.

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