Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions 2017-05-08T09:05:41+00:00

Frequently Asked Questions

What does Prosper Portland do? 2017-05-07T03:06:34+00:00

Prosper Portland invests in job creation, innovation and economic opportunity throughout Portland to create one of the world’s healthiest, most desirable and equitable cities. The agency’s values – Love Portland, Make a Difference, Do Excellent Work, Build Partnerships, Advance Equity, Honor the Public Trust, Innovate – are the foundation for Prosper Portland’s work, as we make good on our commitments, shape our future course, work with partners and redefine our business model.

Prosper Portland is guided by the Strategic Plan, which focuses our efforts around five objectives to achieve the goal of widely shared prosperity:

  • Create Healthy, Complete Neighborhoods Throughout Portland – Strengthen Portland’s communities by striving to build and increase access to neighborhoods that respond to and respect the diversity of their residents, and that offer essential goods and services, transportation options, connections to employment centers and community and open spaces. Neighborhoods should feel safe, clean and inspire pride among their residents; they should be places where businesses form, jobs are created, and the built environment serves to reduce carbon emissions and other harmful impacts to the climate.
  • Increase Access to High Quality Employment for Portland Residents – Leverage and maintain Portland’s economic competitiveness and create access to high quality employment by supporting traded sector business growth, access to new domestic and foreign markets, and connections for Portland residents to quality employment opportunities across both traded sector and local-serving industries. Incorporate both place-based approaches and people/business-focused approaches to bring activity into underserved neighborhoods and help Portland and all of its residents thrive in an innovation- and knowledge-based economy.
  • Foster Wealth Creation within Communities of Color and Low-Income Neighborhoods – Promote wealth creation by increasing the diversity of high-growth firms, improving the success rate and growth trajectory of local small businesses, increasing opportunities for property ownership among underserved populations, and ensuring Prosper Portland’s construction and redevelopment projects support the growth of minority-owned construction and development firms.
  • Form 21st Century Civic Networks, Institutions and Partnerships – The agency plays a unique role as convener of private and community interests. Strengthen and in some cases redefine the partnerships and networks required to address the most pressing barriers to widely shared prosperity – education, workforce development, neighborhood affordability, infrastructure –  and establish creative, effective, silo-busting solutions.
  • Operate an Equitable, Innovative and Financially Sustainable Agency – Model the values of the Strategic Plan and maintain Prosper Portland’s ability to be an agent of positive change in the city of Portland. Instill equity into all facets of operations, exercise transparent and accountable stewardship of public resources, incorporate best practices in management and operations, and value and support employees through training and leadership development.
How is Prosper Portland governed? 2017-04-24T11:16:47+00:00

In 1958, the citizens of Portland voted to create the Portland Development Commission, now doing business as Prosper Portland  (see the City Charter, Chapter 15). Prosper Portland’s day-to-day functions are carried out through its Executive Director, Leadership Team, managers and support staff. The agency is a department of the City and its executive director reports to the agency board. You can read more about Prosper Portland leadership including photos and brief bios.

Prosper Portland, as a whole, is governed by a five-member board of commissioners (often referred to as Prosper Portland’s Board) who are all local citizens appointed by the mayor and approved by City Council. Following approval by the Prosper Portland Board, urban renewal districts, bond sales, major projects and program changes are also reviewed and approved by City Council. Prosper Portland’s Board of Commissioners is governed by these by-laws.

Prosper Portland’s structure is unique nationally, offering a greater degree of coordination than other major cities where urban renewal, economic development and redevelopment issues are dispersed among several agencies.

Prosper Portland’s reporting structure—to its board rather than directly to the mayor or other city commissioner—was created to allow the agency to implement programs and focus resources independently and not at the direction of any one city commissioner.

Where does Prosper Portland get its funding? 2017-05-07T03:06:33+00:00

Prosper Portland’s primary source of funding for projects and programs are debt proceeds generated through the use of tax increment financing. Approximately 90% of our resources come in tax increment debt proceeds, with additional funding coming from federal and other grants, program income earned on asset management, contracts for services, City of Portland General Fund allocations, and lending agreements.

Our mission is to create economic growth and opportunity for Portland by investing in job creation, encouraging broad economic prosperity, and fostering great places throughout Portland. We accomplish this by targeting our investment of public funds to stimulate private sector investment, job creation and expansion of the tax base. Our work in the River District urban renewal area is an excellent example.

Home to the Pearl District, Old Town/Chinatown and swaths of grittier, industrial properties, the River District URA has experienced phenomenal growth since 2001. Twenty years ago, what we know as the Pearl District was a derelict, underused railroad yard and warehousing area. Today, it’s an internationally-recognized success story – just one of the highlights of our work in the River District, which has included public investment in an array of neighborhood parks, new roads and parking facilities, affordable and catalyzing market-rate housing and innovative projects that maintain the vibrancy of Portland’s downtown core. Much of the URA’s 350 acres have been transformed into a high density urban neighborhood with a lively mix of residents and businesses, major office spaces, regional attractions, retail, parks and open spaces.

That transformation has also included redevelopment of the historic Meier & Frank department store in the retail core south of Burnside and supporting the important connection between the River District and downtown Portland.

Prosper Portland’s role was to put in place the appropriate infrastructure that would allow private development to go forward. In the final analysis, 90 percent of the funding for River District development has come from private sources. Since the inception of the district in FY 1999-2000, its assessed value has grown by $1.7 billion.

Why does an urban renewal line item appear on property tax statements? 2017-04-13T14:11:28+00:00

Urban renewal is a state-sanctioned program designed to help communities improve and redevelop areas that are physically deteriorated, unsafe, or poorly planned. Prosper Portland, the city’s economic development and urban renewal agency, uses urban renewal as a tool to help specific areas of the city realize capital projects—parks, streetscape improvements, community centers, and the like—that would not happen on their own.

The Urban Renewal line item shown on tax statements received by property owners within the City of Portland represents the amount collected for urban renewal activities. This amount is a combination of Prosper Portland’s share of taxes assessed by taxing jurisdictions including the city, the county, and schools, and an urban renewal tax assessed by the City of Portland against all taxable property within the City of Portland. The urban renewal line item on your bill is not a new tax.

For more information on your property tax bill, contact the Multnomah County Property Tax Assessment and Taxation office at 503-988-3326.

Where is Prosper Portland located? 2017-05-07T03:06:34+00:00

Prosper Portland’s office is located in Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown district.

Prosper Portland
222 NW Fifth Ave
Portland, OR 97209-3859

Phone: 503-823-3200
Fax: 503-823-3368

Use Google’s Transit Trip Planner for detailed public transit directions to our office.

View directions from Portland International Airport (PDX).

What does Prosper Portland do in my neighborhood? 2017-04-24T11:30:56+00:00

All Prosper Portland activities are guided by a budget developed by staff in conjunction with citizens, City Council, and various community partners. The budget spells out the specific work program of the city’s  urban renewal areas listed below as well as the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative and Main Street Network.

If you would like a copy of Prosper Portland’s budget, you may download it from our Budget page, or contact our Public Affairs Department.

How many employees work at Prosper Portland? 2017-04-13T14:13:56+00:00

Prosper Portland has a staff of approximately 85.

Members of each department work in teams to deliver the full range of services Prosper Portland offers throughout the city. We also deliver job and industry development programs throughout the region.

Who are the Prosper Portland Commissioners and when do they meet? 2017-05-07T03:06:34+00:00

You can find more information about Prosper Portland’s five citizen commissioners on our Leadership page.

Prosper Portland conducts business at public meetings held on the second Wednesday of the month at 3:00 p.m. and the fourth Wednesday of the month at 8:00 a.m. at Prosper Portland offices, 222 NW Fifth Ave., in downtown Portland. For more information on Prosper Portland’s monthly meetings, contact the Public Affairs office at 503-823-3224 or view the online Board Meeting schedule.

How can I get a loan from Prosper Portland? 2017-04-24T11:33:16+00:00

In general, Prosper Portland business finance programs address the need for tenant improvements, equipment purchase, façade improvements, property development and rehabilitation,  real estate acquisition, credit enhancement,  property feasibility study, and working capital.   Companies unable to obtain adequate funds from private lenders may be eligible for a Prosper Portland loan. For more information about business loans through Prosper Portland take a look at our Financial Support page, or contact us via phone at 503-823-3442.

Who manages day-to-day operations of Prosper Portland? 2017-04-24T11:34:28+00:00

Prosper Portland is headed by Executive Director Kimberly Branam.

Prosper Portland has several divisions reporting to the executive director. Read more about our division directors.

What are some of the notable projects Prosper Portland has been involved with? 2017-04-24T11:37:05+00:00

Historically, Prosper Portland’s physical projects are some of the most well-known in the city: development of Museum Place, Eastbank Esplanade, Portland’s Rose Quarter, light rail to the airport and North Interstate Avenue, the Classical Chinese Garden, Pioneer Place, Pioneer Courthouse Square, RiverPlace, Chinatown Gateway, renovation of historic Union Station, and the redevelopment of the North Park Blocks. Prior to the creation of the Portland Housing Bureau, Prosper Portland (then known as the Portland Development Commission) made thousands of loans to Portland homeowners to make needed repairs to their homes, ensuring that these houses remained up to code and were also safe to live in. The agency also provided more than 7,000 loans to owners of rental housing to fix substandard rental units and maintain affordable rents.

More recently, Prosper Portland has contributed to, managed and/or completed a variety of significant economic development and community-driven projects including the Portland Mercado in SE Portland, the launch of the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative and Main Street Network, Alberta Commons, the redevelopment of Lents Town Center, Techtown Portland and the Tech Diversity Pledge, and the Mercatus digital platform to showcase and connect local business owners of color. Looking ahead, Prosper Portland’s work in developing the Broadway Corridor in NW Portland is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the downtown Portland landscape, creating affordable housing, jobs, and opportunities for economic, business, social and community development.

What is urban renewal? 2017-05-07T03:06:34+00:00

Urban renewal is a state-authorized tool to invest property tax revenues in projects that ultimately result in higher property values in a designated urban renewal area, and which draw private investment that stimulates economic growth, job creation, and broader prosperity throughout the city.

Typically, cities designate an urban renewal agency with the authority to raise and leverage money to help revitalize neighborhoods. Prosper Portland is that agency for the City of Portland. Prosper Portland was established (as the Portland Development Commission) by City Charter in 1958.

The urban renewal process, very simplified, involves:

  • Working with the affected communities to draw a line around the urban renewal area thus establishing an Urban Renewal Boundary.
  • Working with the affected communities to create a list of desired improvements. This is the Urban Renewal Plan.
  • Locating and combining various funding sources to accomplish the work in the Plan. Prosper Portland coordinates this often difficult task.
What is Tax Increment Financing? 2017-04-24T11:38:48+00:00

Tax Increment Financing is one of Prosper Portland’s primary sources of urban renewal funding. Prosper Portland has been using this tool since the late 1970s. When the city defines an urban renewal boundary, the county assessor “freezes” the assessed value of real property within the urban renewal district. Urban renewal districts raise money by borrowing against future growth in property taxes. The city uses the borrowed money to pay for capital improvements, which spur more development. As the city and others invest in the urban renewal area, property values go up. The property taxes above those that were collected when the values were “frozen” – the tax increment – are used to repay the loans used for the improvements in the urban renewal area. When the urban renewal district expires in 20-25 years, the intent is to return a much higher property tax base to the tax rolls.

How do I request Prosper Portland Public Records? 2017-04-24T11:40:09+00:00

In accordance with Oregon State Law, Prosper Portland records are available for inspection and/or copying by the public, unless specifically exempted from disclosure by state statute.

For more information, see our Public Records Requests page.

How does Prosper Portland’s investment in parking garages benefit the public? 2017-04-13T14:01:08+00:00

Prosper Portland focuses its investments on healthy, connected neighborhoods with transportation options, as well as on economic growth and central city vibrancy – all based on public plans and public input.

Our investments in parking garages are made with the long term in mind and are anchored to community-driven strategies and shared public goals for economic growth. As with all Prosper Portland projects, all such investments aim to achieve community priorities, including broad economic benefit, community vibrancy and sustainability, and are developed to align with publicly driven plans such as the Central City 2035, Climate Action,  and various urban renewal area plans.  Our business equity goals for construction, promoting the use of minority contractors, are also key elements of any investment in parking infrastructure.

Funds directed toward garage projects complement other agency investments and do not take the place of the city’s significant investment in affordable housing which is the purview of the Portland Housing Bureau, and to which we have contributed more than $100 million over the past five years.

According to the City’s projections, “by 2035, we expect to have 122,000 more households, 135,000 more jobs, and 1.2 million more daily trips. To maintain Portland’s quality of life, we must find ways to grow gracefully. That means finding new ways to manage parking and its effects on air quality, traffic congestion, housing and real estate development, equity, and economic vitality.”

As we grow, the City does not anticipate eliminating parking but rather reducing vehicle travel and parking spaces per capita and promoting desired compact development and people’s use of non-auto travel choices through various policies and investments.

Public and Partner Input

  • Central City 2035, the Climate Action Plan, and urban renewal area plans provide public guidance to Prosper Portland’s investments in parking, which in alignment with those plans focus on creating vibrant neighborhoods where 80 percent of residents can easily walk or bicycle to meet all basic daily, non-work needs and have safe pedestrian or bicycle access to transit.
  • A May 25, 2016, letter from the Lloyd Enhanced Services District and Go Lloyd (the district’s transportation demand management organization) stated strong support for the Convention Center Hotel (CCH) garage: “a parking garage is an essential element of the successful development of a Convention Center Hotel,” based on its functional link to the Hotel together with current and future parking capacity needs of the district.
  • Prior to initiating plans for a hotel parking garage, Prosper Portland and project partners confirmed that the existing parking supply at the Oregon Convention Center was required for Convention Center visitors and could not support hotel visitor needs.
  • Proposed district parking in both Old Town/Chinatown and Central Eastside would either support historic buildings and/or focus on redevelopment of surface lots that currently serve the businesses within the areas to preserve parking for those businesses.

Community Vibrancy

  • While the CCH garage is next to light rail, it also includes a 19,000 SF TriMet transit police precinct, which will enhance safety and security in the vicinity of the Hotel, the adjacent transit center, and the transit system.
  • Developing the CCH garage in concert with the hotel provides the opportunity for enhanced urban design in the Lloyd District along NE Holladay Street and improved connection between the Oregon Convention Center and the Rose Quarter area.
  • The 10th & Yamhill garage renovation is anchored to the Downtown Retail Strategy, which encourages short-term, affordable parking for shoppers to sustain a vibrant downtown core and provide a centralized parking location for shoppers to avoid idling while seeking on-street parking.

Sustainability

  • While a parking garage is a requirement of the CCH project, the Convention Center Hotel will require less on-site parking than a typical hotel of the same size due to its proximity to transit lines. The proposed ratio of hotel-related parking stalls/room of approximately 0.6 is lower than other convention center-related hotels in peer cities (between 0.7 and 0.9 stalls/room in Seattle, Denver, and Minneapolis), acknowledging the transportation alternatives available to hotel patrons. Limiting the number of vehicle parking spaces is in general alignment with the Climate Action Plan.
  • The CCH garage is being developed to meet Parksmart Gold certification, the highest level of the world’s only certification program that defines, measures and recognizes high-performing, sustainable garages.  The ground floor will have 114 spaces for bike parking and at least eight EV charging stations as well as discounts for EV parking, all of which align with the Climate Action Plan’s call for support of non-car transportation options and reduced carbon emissions.
  • Prosper Portland’s investment in 10th & Yamhill is in renovation of the garage and in support of long term tenanting of the ground floor retail – current retailers are challenged by some of the garage’s design elements and significant need for upgrades to the building’s outdated venting and mechanical systems.

Economic Benefit

  • The garage is a requirement for the Convention Center Hotel development, which has been a top priority of the Oregon Convention Center plan and regional and Lloyd District stakeholders for decades.  The CCH has long been called for to help the region’s economy, maximize the Oregon Convention Center’s capacity, increase its vitality, and add significant event and tourism activity to the city and the region.
  • The CCH garage will be refinanced upon completion of construction and all refinancing resources and/or land sales related to air rights or other property rights would be available to the Oregon Convention Center URA within the five-year forecast.  Prosper Portland will be able to use the income from the garage to further economic goals that benefit all Portland residents.
  • The CCH garage is being designed and constructed to support future commercial development.  A 100,000 SF office building on top of the garage (which accounted for a portion of the overall increased project cost) would be consistent with and will implement the Central City 2035 Plan,  increase density and activity along the existing MAX light rail line, and increase property tax revenues to the taxing jurisdictions.
  • Prosper Portland’s involvement with the tenanting strategy for the 10th & Yamhill garage includes a commitment to minority tenants and prioritizes small local businesses in alignment with our Strategic Plan.  We are partnering closely with PBOT on this approach.To minimize construction impact, existing tenants received 18 months’ notice of the garage redevelopment.  Tenants have been working with the Portland Business Alliance and Prosper Portland to identify new retail sites during construction or on a more permanent basis.
    • Tenants will be invited to re-apply for the ground floor space opportunities; we are working with small business providers to identify potential new tenants who are interested in relocating or growing in the downtown retail core.