About the Discussion Draft
The MP2H-NW Plan Discussion Draft proposes land use changes in the industrial employment area north of NW Vaughn Street and west of Highway 30, to complement a potential extension of the Portland Streetcar along NW 23rd Avenue and NW Wilson/NW Roosevelt streets to Montgomery Park. The strategy also proposes a framework to promote development that creates more equitable outcomes and benefits to the community.
Leading with equity
The City of Portland has recognized the need for more equitable outcomes from City decision-making, investments and policy development. The Portland Plan and 2035 Comprehensive Plan emphasize the importance of all Portlanders more equitably sharing the benefits and burdens of growth and development.
But what does that mean? History shows that land use plans and large public infrastructure investments often increase land values and raise the cost of living. These changes often harm or fail to benefit low-income households and communities of color.
A 2019 BPS racial equity analysis found that industrial businesses, such as those that could locate in industrially zoned portions of the study area, provide living-wage jobs for those without a 4-year college degree. BIPOC and other under-represented communities tend to benefit from industrial jobs, due to lower barriers to entry. The equity analysis suggested that industrial land should be retained to help serve these communities. Or, if change is proposed, that benefits of the change be shared more equitably. The report noted that increases in land value due to rezoning or major infrastructure investments primarily accrue to the owners of land, which are not typically BIPOC community members.
The MP2H-NW Plan uses an equity lens to consider how public and private investments can create more equitable outcomes. The plan’s increased entitlements for private development are conditional on providing public benefits aligned with community equity goals.
An opportunity for change with benefits
A new transit-oriented district in Northwest Portland could achieve several benefits to the community. Based on initial community dialog, the proposed outcomes are central to the needs and desires for a healthier, more inclusive community. These benefits will not occur automatically; therefore, the implementation includes mechanisms to make these outcomes more likely.
1. Address the housing needs of Portlanders with new affordable housing options in opportunity-rich low-carbon neighborhoods.
2. Preserve and enhance active industrial lands and access to living wage jobs. Explore ways to share in wealth building.
3. Expand access to high quality, low-cost, low-emission transportation options.
A vision for a new neighborhood
With the MP2H-NW Plan, the area west of Highway 30, which includes the historic Montgomery Park office building and site, the historic American Can Company building, the former ESCO steel site, and several other individual properties in the nearby area, would transition from an industrial and office/employment center into a vital new mixed-use district with housing, commercial services and offices/employment.
Proposed MP2H–NW Plan District Concept
Anchored by the Montgomery Park office complex, the district would have a major employment component and could include additional office and institutional uses as well as commercial services such as retail and restaurants. The proposal also creates the opportunity for more than 3,000 new housing units, including hundreds of affordable units, in residential and mixed-use buildings. The transition of the area will be supported by investments in new transportation and transit facilities. A variety of tools would be used to ensure there is a significant number of affordable housing units as well as the opportunity for living wage jobs.
The Montgomery Park site currently has a Comprehensive Plan land use designation of Central Employment, implemented through the Central Employment (EXd) zone, which provides for a broad array of uses from light industrial to dense offices and employment, and multi-dwelling residential.
On nearby properties, including the former ESCO site, current industrial and employment land use designations and zones would transition to mixed use with the application of the Central Employment designation, followed by future application of the Central Employment (EXd) zone. Because some of these sites are currently identified as “prime industrial” land, a type of land in short supply in Portland, the changes are contingent on a mitigation strategy to offset the losses.
To support transportation needs and facilitate mixed use development, the area would be served by an extension of the Portland Streetcar. The alignment would follow a route north along NW 23rd Avenue from connections at Lovejoy and Northrup, turning west on a couplet along NW Roosevelt and NW Wilson Streets to NW 26th Avenue. NW 23rd Avenue would be substantially reconstructed north of Northrup, and several new local street connections would be built serving the former ESCO site.
The vision retains nearby industrial land and jobs east of Highway 30 and north of NW Nicolai Street and suggests mitigation for industrial land losses where changes are proposed.