Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center Feasibility Study

Parks
In Planning
A feasibility study is underway which will produce market, financial, and operational analyses to determine a sustainable operating plan for IFCC – a plan that is in alignment with the community’s vision.
Study completion expected Summer 2024
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Project Updates

Six people who are members of the IFCC community advisory committee stand in front of display boards. Antoinette, a woman in purple, holds a microphone.

Thank you to everyone who joined our 2nd community meeting to learn how the community has shaped the feasibility study and give feedback on the next steps.

If you would like to receive future project updates, please contact maija.spencer@portlandoregon.gov.


A view looking down on a meeting space with about 90 people sitting at round tables while someone presents.

Thank you to everyone who joined us on August 30, 2023 to be part of the community-led vision of a center for Black arts and culture at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center! 

  • Studio Abioto kicked off the event with a welcoming performance. The Abioto family has been one of the IFCC Artists in Residence in the first year. They are "a creative house, a creative studio, a creative family."
  • Catering by The Madman Pop-up. Chef Jahquari Greene is a "professional Michelin star trained chef specializing in West Indian cuisine inspired pop ups."
  • Over 90 people listened to a presentation from the Community Advisory Committee, followed by small group discussions led by the Community Fellows. 
  • What did we hear? Read the summary of community input.  

Overview

Portland Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), and the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center (IFCC) Community Advisory Committee are pleased to announce efforts to advance the community-led vision for the beloved public space at IFCC. The IFCC Community Advisory Committee (CAC) proposes the building be redeveloped as a site where the history of Portland's Black community - and its rich arts and culture contributions - can be presented, displayed, discussed, and honored. This vision is moving forward.

Portland Parks & Recreation and the IFCC CAC is working with a consultant on a feasibility study that will produce market, financial, and operational analyses to determine a sustainable operating plan for IFCC – a plan that is in alignment with the community’s vision. This effort is funded by the 2020 Parks Local Option Levy (Parks Levy).  Additionally, Portland City Council has received money from the American Rescue Plan Act to develop a grant/residency program at IFCC to support Portland artists who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Project Background

The Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center is a community arts center located at 5340 N Interstate Avenue, in North Portland’s Overlook neighborhood. The building was originally constructed in 1910 and used as a fire station until 1959. Portland's first Black City Commissioner and PP&R Director, Charles Jordan, established IFCC as a North Portland community space and a focal point for Black culture in 1982.

IFCC was managed by the nonprofit organization IFCC, Inc. until 2010 when that nonprofit concluded its operations. Management authority was given to Ethos, Inc., which returned responsibilities to the City of Portland in 2014. Since 2018, the building has been utilized for short-term, multi-week leasing by arts organizations which align with the IFCC’s current project goals.

In 2018, PP&R was charged with developing a community-driven plan to reopen IFCC as a center for arts and culture with the following goals:

  • Respect and honor IFCC’s history and roots in the Black community
  • Uphold IFCC’s original mission to explore, preserve and celebrate Portland’s diversity; and
  • Advance the City of Portland’s commitment to racial equity.

In July 2018, former Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz appointed a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to develop a vision and recommend a sustainable operating model for IFCC. In April 2019, the IFCC CAC submitted a report to Parks Director Adena Long and the late former Parks Commissioner Nick Fish. To realize this vision, the CAC recommended that the center operate under a nonprofit organization managing the site in partnership with the City of Portland. The report also demonstrated through financial analysis that program operations are unsustainable in the current facility due to its size, space constraints, and unreinforced masonry (URM) status.

In July 2020, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Director Adena Long stated their support of the CAC’s vision and the formation of a partner nonprofit organization.  


Project Schedule

Fall 2021 - Fall 2022: Consultant selection and contracting for Feasibility Study

Winter 2022/23 -  Summer 2024: Feasibility Study 

  • Community Meeting #1: Wednesday, August 30, 2023 
  •  Community Meeting #2: Wednesday, March 20, 2023

Community Advisory Committee Members

A Community Advisory Committee was appointed in June 2018 to develop a sustainable plan to re-envision and re-activate IFCC as a center for arts and culture, with the goals to:

  • Respect and honor IFCC's history and roots in the Black community
  • Uphold IFCC's original mission to explore, preserve and celebrate Portland’s diversity
  • Advance the City of Portland's commitment to racial equity

As the Committee develops a thoughtful, long-term plan for IFCC, PP&R recognizes there is an immediate and urgent need for creative space in Portland at present.

In February 2018, the City adopted “A Plan for Preserving and Expanding Affordable Arts Space in Portland.” PP&R is committed to fulfilling the Plan by supporting the IFCC Community Advisory Committee to “develop a strategy for culturally-specific creative spaces” (Recommendation XVIII) and by “providing short-term affordable leases for interim uses ahead of future development” (Recommendation XVII).

Community Advisory Committee members:

  • Antoinette Edwards (Office of Youth Violence Prevention, retired)
  • Donovan Scribes (Gentrification is WEIRD!, artist, writer, speaker, producer)
  • Cynthia Sulaski (Overlook Neighborhood Association)
  • Dr. S. Renee Mitchell (I Am MORE, artist, writer)
  • Helen Daltoso (Regional Arts & Culture Council)
  • Jeana Woolley (JM Woolley & Associates, community developer)
  • Patricia Welch (North Portland Library, retired)
  • Prentice Onayemi (Grains of Salt, artist)
  • Subashini Ganesan-Forbes (Former Creative Laureate of Portland, New Expressive Works)

*Former CAC members during Visioning Process: Rob Smith and Tyler White

The CAC is currently meeting monthly on Zoom. If you would like to attend, please contact Maija Spencer at maija.spencer@portlandoregon.gov.


Community Fellows

The following community members are serving as Community Fellows.  Fellows are working with Concordia, the consultant team leading the feasibility study, and providing outreach and facilitation for community engagement for the project:

  • AJ McCreary
  • Elijah Hasan
  • Harmonie Nyounai-Herrera
  • Kawana Clayton Bullock
  • Kwik Jones
  • Sarah Hassouneh
  • Yurel Watson

Documents

Location

Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center

Community And Arts Center
Park Location or Entrance
5340 N Interstate Avenue
Portland, OR 97217

Contact

Maija Spencer (she, they)

Senior Community Engagement Coordinator

Soo Pak

Art, Culture, and Special Events Manager

Neighborhood