The following are Executive Director Kimberly Branam’s remarks from the announcement of the North Russell St./North Williams Ave. collaboration between Legacy Health, Prosper Portland and the City of Portland on Tuesday, August 1, 2017.
Today’s announcement is grounded in our collective recognition of a painful history—that continues to impact our community today—and built upon a foundation of collaboration, optimism and renewed commitment.
Like Dr. Moreland-Capuia, I too am a lifelong Portlander and resident of North and Northeast Portland, and I know the history of this site. I know that, in the 1970s, the agency that I now lead played a direct role in the displacement of more than 171 families, 74 percent of whom were African-American, from the urban renewal area that included this site.
While this terrible chapter in our city’s history does not represent who we are or how we work today, what happened then must—and will—continue inform how we move forward alongside community members and engage with our partners in North and Northeast Portland.
“I’d like to recognize the many community leaders who have continued to remind us of our obligations to deliver on promises made—and who have envisioned numerous community-centered visions for this property. Your advocacy and leadership brings us here today.”
We know that one project cannot and will not make up for the past. But we are also hopeful that a project grounded in a shared commitment to Portland’s African-American community—and to the health of individuals and families—can promote community healing in the process.
This milestone today represents collaborative efforts of many people. In particular, I’d like to thank and recognize:
- Prosper Portland Board members—especially Dr. Alicia Moreland Capuia, Tavo Cruz and former board chair Tom Kelly—as well as Charles Wilhoite, Dr. Brown and the entire Legacy Health board, and Mayor Ted Wheeler and Maurice Henderson. Thank you all for your leadership and your commitment to working together to reach this point
- I also want to recognize Eric Iverson, Kimberly Moreland, Bobby Lee, and Tory Campbell—from Prosper Portland—for their efforts behind the scenes
- And finally, I’d like to recognize the many community leaders who have continued to remind us of our obligations to deliver on promises made—and who have envisioned numerous community-centered visions for this property. Your advocacy and leadership brings us here today.
Following this announcement the Prosper Portland Board of Commissioners will consider an amendment to the Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area in early August. The amendment brings this property into the Interstate Corridor URA, which will enable both Prosper Portland and the Portland Housing Bureau to use financial resources to support potential projects on the site
Later this summer, in partnership with Legacy and the city, we will establish a Project Working Group that will guide the community outreach and engagement as well as the development process. Throughout the fall and winter, the Project Working Group will meet to review ideas that have previously been shared for this site as well as any new suggests that arise in order to develop a set of priorities for the site. Early next year we expect to issue a solicitation for a development partner with the goal that construction start in 2019.
Our hope is that this represents one of many such projects—and that what we achieve here can become a model for future community-centered developments in this neighborhood and beyond.
And finally, when I became executive director last year, I worked with my Board and Mayor Wheeler to ensure that, as the city’s economic development agency, our mission, our values and our vision for Portland are clear: that our commitment to growing family wage jobs, to building lasting partnerships, creating great neighborhoods and advancing opportunities for prosperity is evident in everything we do.
Among the many steps we’ve taken was the decision to rename the Portland Development Commission to Prosper Portland. This decision was not made to distance ourselves from our past, but rather it was made to represent our commitment to a new direction. To prosper means to flourish; to growth strong and healthy. With health, healing, economic opportunity and community at its center, we hope the community can prosper anew in this place.
I am honored that Prosper Portland has the opportunity to collaborate with the community and these committed partners. And I look forward to seeing this vacant land, once again, serve the North and Northeast Portland community.