The Hill Block: N Russell and Williams Collaboration

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The Hill Block: N Russell and Williams Collaboration 2017-12-21T14:54:01+00:00

Project Description

The Hill Block Project:
North Russell Street & Williams Avenue

Contact: Tory Campbell, email or 503-823-3231

Legacy Health, Prosper Portland and the City of Portland have agreed to develop a vacant 1.7 acre block at North Russell Street and North Williams Avenue currently owned by Legacy Health. The focus of the development is to honor Portland’s African-American community, support community housing and economic needs, and further Legacy Health’s mission of promoting health and wellness for children and families. The site is now referred to as the Hill Block, which is the historic name of the building that once occupied the site and served as the center of the African American commercial district from the 1940s to the early 1960s. The Hill Block building’s onion-domed cupola is now located in Eliot Neighborhood’s Dawson Park.

The Hill Block property is located within an area that Prosper Portland and the City of Portland condemned in the early 1970s under urban renewal for an expansion of the hospital campus; this action displaced 171 families, 74 percent of which were African American. Emanuel Hospital (now Legacy Health) purchased land from the Portland Development Commission (now Prosper Portland) and acquired additional properties from individual owners in order to grow and expand its campus in north/northeast Portland. Through the North/Northeast Community Development Initiative (N/NE CDI) Action Plan process, community members brought continuous attention to the importance of these properties to the community.

On August 1, 2017, Prosper Portland, the Office of City of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, and Legacy Health announced a collaborative project to develop the Hill Block property.  The City of Portland, Legacy Health, and Prosper Portland have agreed to work together to facilitate a community-driven process that will determine a community vision and development proposal for the vacant site. From August through October 2017, Prosper Portland staff and the Hill Block project partners have met with the N/NE CDI Oversight Committee convened by Prosper Portland and the Portland Housing Bureau North/Northeast Neighborhood Housing Strategy Committee. Meetings also took place with the Legacy Emanuel Community Partnership Committee and members of the Portland African-American Leadership Forum. These meetings were designed to further discuss the Hill Block project and a process for community engagement, with a community-based Project Working Group as a key tenet.

Project Working Group

Nominations to the Project Working Group were solicited from organizations and community groups within or with a strong connection to the North/Northeast community. Two seats on the Project Working Group were reserved for community-at-large members.

The Project Working Group will define and drive a community-centered visioning and development process that will create more clarity around a broader community outreach approach and the final project elements and goals.

The Project Working Group shall consist of approximately 20 members from the African American community and four representatives from Prosper Portland, Portland Housing Bureau, the Mayor’s Office and Legacy Health. The Project Working Group will include generational diversity and a broad set of perspectives and skills. The final Project Working Group roster will be determined by a nominating committee representing North/Northeast community organizations and groups.  Community members who do not serve on the Project Working Group will have opportunities to participate in the community process and attend Project Working Group meetings.

The Project Working Group will:
• Oversee a year-long visioning and development process that ensures a transparent, community-serving project
• Oversee the selection of the development team; and
• Communicate back to organizations/stakeholders they represent and community at large


August 23, 2017 North/Northeast CDI Oversight Committee. View meeting agenda
October 5, 2017 Oversight Committee Meeting; view meeting agenda. Legacy Emanuel Community Partnership Committee meeting
October 25, 2017 Special Meeting: Oversight Committee. View meeting agenda
November 8, 2017 Prosper Portland Board of Commissioners meeting; receive report on meetings and actions to date. View meeting agenda
Ongoing Discussions with community members