In September 1998, the City Council established the Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Area (LTCURA), the first of three neighborhood URAs created in the span of four years, in order to accomplish community goals. These include generation of new family wage jobs, assistance to new and existing businesses, improvements to local infrastructure such as streets and parks, improvements to existing housing and new housing construction. Implementation of the plan began in fiscal year 1999-2000. A 2008 amendment to the plan expanded boundaries by 140.05 acres, increased maximum indebtedness by $170 million and extended the expiration date to June 30, 2020.
Since the formation of the URA in 1998, Prosper Portland has invested $90 million in infrastructure, facilities, transportation, affordable housing, and business development. In 2010, Prosper Portland established the Neighborhood Economic Development Strategy, which served as a guide for Lents Town Center URA objectives.
The subsequent Lents Five-Year Action Plan, developed by Prosper Portland and the city with community input and adopted in 2014, laid out a strategy that focuses future investments where they will have the most impact, ensures existing residents and businesses benefit, and takes some calculated risks to achieve the vision for retail amenities, residential density, job growth, and private investment in the Lents URA.
In October 2014 Prosper Portland issued a request for interest from development partners who could advance that goal through the purchase and development of multiple sites located along SE 92nd Avenue and SE Foster Road, in and around the Lents Town Center. At the same time, the agency committed to its 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, which focuses on creating healthy, complete neighborhoods with vibrant communities and corridors. The goal is to support growth of mixed use, mixed income communities that contribute to improved business and resident satisfaction with the community. The resulting projects are collectively known as Lents Town Center Phase 1.
In January 2015, Prosper Portland selected the following four proposals for Phase 1:
- Lents Commons, a mixed-use, mixed income project with 54 units of housing and approximately 7,500 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. Sixteen of the 54 apartments will be reserved as affordable and will include a ground floor public courtyard and on-site parking. Hacker Architecture is the project architect.
- Oliver Station. This Palindrome Communities project includes two buildings on two sites on either side of SE 92nd Avenue between SE Foster and SE Woodstock Boulevard. Combined, the two buildings will add 126 affordable apartment units and 19 market rate apartment units to Lents Town Center and approximately 29,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space with parking included. One of the buildings is located on the former site of the New Copper Penny restaurant and bar; the second building is located on the former site of the Chevron Gas Station. Ankrom Moisan is the project architect.
- Asian Health and Service Center new headquarters at SE Foster and SE 91st Avenue. The development is an approximately 30,000 square foot build-to-suit commercial building that will house the AHSC office, community and clinic services, and event space. The project includes a rooftop garden and on-site parking. Holst Architecture is the project architect.
- Woody Guthrie Place (ROSE Community Development) is a mixed-income apartment building on SE 91st Avenue at SE Reedway Street. The building will add 64 units to the town center—13 affordable units (one manager unit) and 50 workforce housing units affordable to households earning 80-100% of the area median income—with on-site parking. Carlton Hart is the project architect.
Phase 1 consisted of $109 million in total investment, including $37 million in loans from Prosper Portland and $17 million in loans from the Portland Housing Bureau. Phase 1 added 288 new housing units, including 225 affordable and income-restricted units (78 percent), and commercial space for 10 businesses.
In late 2018 Prosper Portland began community engagement for Lents Town Center Phase 2, the redevelopment of a 4.4-acre site on SE 92nd and Harold with opportunities for new housing renovated commercial space, and public space.