The impetus for formation of the Willamette Industrial Urban Renewal Area began in 2003 and the district was adopted by the Portland City Council on November 24, 2004. At 755.5 acres, the Willamette Industrial URA became the fourth largest URA among the city’s eleven districts created since 1974. The Willamette Industrial Urban Renewal Plan represented a major step to address the critical challenge of attracting new industrial investment in the heart of Portland’s industrial waterfront, which continues to be hampered by an under-use of development sites partly the result of environmental contamination.
View a map showing the boundaries of the Industrial URA detailing the four areas.
In 2015, Portland City Council approved a package of URA amendments which included changes to the WIURA to terminate collection of tax increment revenues, release acreage, release tax revenues to taxing jurisdictions, and allow Prosper Portland to support manufacturing companies with remaining bond proceeds. The last date to issue debt was accelerated from FY 2024-25 to FY 2015-16.
The Willamette Industrial URA was created to help assure the long-term economic viability of one of the city’s most critical industrial areas and create a new job growth center within the City of Portland. With public benefit in mind, the URA was expected to:
- Address Portland’s severe shortage of ready-to-build industrial land. The WIURA opened up vacant acres for much-needed industrial development, which in turn was expected to create family wage jobs for Portland residents.
- Provide financial resources to help address environmental cleanup or other challenges. Many of these properties would not be redeveloped without this kind of assistance.
- Attract new business and employment. One new high-technology plant for this URA could create up to 500 new jobs.
- Assist existing businesses in the URA. Urban renewal provides a funding source to help these businesses to expand or modernize their operations.
The Willamette Industrial URA is within the Portland Enterprise Zone (E-Zone), which allows industrial firms that will be making a substantial new capital investment a waiver of 100% of the amount of real property taxes attributable to the new investment for a five-year period after completion. Land or existing machinery or equipment is not tax exempt; therefore, there is no loss of current property tax levies to local taxing jurisdictions. Prosper Portland is the local sponsor for the Portland E-Zone program. Since 1996, the city’s E-Zone programs have leveraged more than one billion dollars in private investments and have created and retained more than five thousand full-time, quality jobs.