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Future zoning and development in West Portland Town Center

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Once adopted, the West Portland Town Center Plan will affect zoning and future development in the area.
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Future development

There are no immediate plans for any redevelopment in the WPTC area at this time. However, the WPTC Plan lays the foundation for future changes when opportunities arise. Except for the Barbur Transit Center site and public streets and sidewalks, the land in the town center is mostly privately owned. Private property owners will be the ones to decide when they are ready and interested in selling and/or redeveloping their properties. No property owner will be required to sell their home or redevelop their property. 

However, many elements of the WPTC Plan (including zoning regulations) will influence what type of redevelopment is possible. Furthermore, the increase in land value from rezoning provides an opportunity to require public benefits for a more vibrant and equitable town center. These benefits are identified and prioritized in the Plan District code language. 

Single-dwelling and multi-dwelling zones

Currently, single-dwelling zones allow a property owner to have one house and an accessory dwelling unit (either attached or detached). However, once the Residential Infill Project goes into effect in August 2021, up to two ADUs, a triplex or fourplex will be allowed on standard single-dwelling lots. And in some cases, a six-plex will be allowed if at least half of the units are affordable at 60% MFI. 

Multi-dwelling zones require a higher number of units on a lot. This zone would allow more housing over time, including small- and medium-sized apartment buildings and even townhouses. In addition, apartment buildings with 20 units or more trigger the City’s Inclusionary Housing regulations, which require 10-20% of those units be affordable to lower income households. The WPTC Plan is designed to encourage the use of this program.

To create more housing in the town center, the plan proposes to change some of the area’s single-dwelling zones to multi-dwelling. These zone changes affect the types of new development that will be allowed in the future and the level of minimum density that development must have.

Learn more about residential zones.

Changing from single-dwelling to multi-dwelling zoning

A zoning change does not require the existing development to change. If there is a single-family home on a single-dwelling lot and the zone is changed to multi-dwelling, that home can remain as long as the property owner desires. It can also be remodeled or added onto. The new zoning would only apply if the home/primary building is removed.

The property owner gets to choose when development on a property will change. The City does not seek to take or purchase any individual property for redevelopment and generally does not redevelop individual properties. There are a few exceptions, however, such as:

  • When the Portland Housing Bureau might help fund the purchase of a mixed-use commercial or multi-dwelling property for preservation or development of affordable housing,
  • Where the Bureau of Environmental Services purchases a property for a needed stormwater facility or to support preservation of key watershed resources,
  • Or if the Parks Bureau purchases land for a park or natural area. 

How the Residential Infill Project affects WPTC development

The purpose of the Residential Infill Project (RIP) was to limit the size of new single-dwelling homes and create more housing options in our city. It was not intended to create “affordable housing” in the traditional sense.

The Residential Infill Project allows more units on a single-dwelling property, but it does not require any additional units (except on a double-sized lot). A property owner or developer can choose to remove a home in a single-dwelling zone and replace it with simply a new single home or unit. 

The multi-family RM1 and RM2 zones require and allow a higher density than the RIP middle housing allowances do. The draft WPTC Plan proposes changing some single-dwelling zones to multi-dwelling zones. So, if a home is removed on a previously single-dwelling lot, redevelopment of that property would need to meet the minimum density requirements of the multi-dwelling zone. In other words, future redevelopment in these “converted” areas would require higher densities rather than being optional. 

Learn more

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