Contact: John Jackley, PDC, jackleyj@pdc.us

January 31, 2014

The January 30 announcement of the selection of Portland’s own Colas Construction marks a major milestone in the Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. South development project and the implementation of a related community benefits agreement.

With the project, PDC and the City of Portland are fulfilling our commitment to implement the community-defined King Neighborhood Commercial Strategy, which called for a commercial development at the site at NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and NE Alberta Street. PDC is similarly keeping our commitment to the 16 locally-owned businesses at Vanport Square retail center and in the surrounding area who counted on an anchor tenant to attract foot traffic and business activity so those small local businesses can prosper.

PDC and the City acknowledge our past role in accelerating gentrification and we believe a conversation that acknowledges the persistent impacts of gentrification is warranted. We appreciate the community leaders who have brought forward future-looking solutions.

Informed by an initial meeting with community leaders held in December, PDC will bring concrete and specific proposals to a follow-up meeting next week regarding:

  • The creation of an Economic Prosperity Working Group to establish a plan and ensure that City and PDC make well-considered investments in the historic African-American community.
  • A project-specific community benefits agreement to ensure the project itself provides opportunities for local subcontractors and suppliers, employment of local residents, local businesses to occupy the retail spaces and for residents of Northeast Portland to provide input on the project through the community design process.
  • Increasing investment in affordable housing including new affordable housing units close to the Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. South project.
  • The development and implementation of a community-driven economic development strategy including a vibrant and diverse Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. South business corridor.
  • Increasing contracting opportunities on major development projects city-wide.

In addition, the early February meeting will identify a more fully inclusive group of stakeholders to participate in this process. Working with these community partners and members, we will convene a series of community listening sessions regarding both the CBA for the Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. South project as well as the committee’s recommendations on public investments going forward.

PDC looks forward to working with these community leaders and members to develop the community benefits agreement as well as the larger, inclusive, community-based economic development strategy.