Opinion: Don't let renewal district expire before key projects are done
The South Waterfront area has become a miniature city. It is projected that more than 1,500 apartment units will be built here in the near future.
Our trac problems need solutions. The greenways provide a better quality of life for us all. Our personal property values are threatened if these projects are not done.
The city of Portland, Prosper Portland and area developers all need to act to truly provide us with a fully "renewed" good place to work and live.
The North Macadam Urban Renewal District was formed in the late 1990s. The goal of all urban renewal districts is to transform a blighted section of a city into a "good place to work and live and to be self-sustaining." The South Waterfront area is a portion of the overall urban renewal district.
The basic premise is that the city of Portland, Multnomah County and Portland Public Schools would agree to form the North Macadam Urban Renewal District. The city has taken the lead in administering the process. The school district and the county agree to have their property tax base frozen for the duration of the life of the renewal district, typically for 20 years, with the possibility being extended and expanded.
In the case of the North Macadam district, this has already happened. The termination date is about four years from now, in the year 2025.
The process includes setting up tax increment fund, in which new and much more expensive buildings replace older ones. The dierence in tax revenue before and after new construction generates a large sum of TIF money that is used for infrastructure (roads, sewers, water lines) to accommodate new buildings.
By state law, the TIF can only be spent in the urban renewal district. Funds cannot be transferred to a dierent part of Portland.
Once the North Macadam Urban Renewal District is deemed to be "renewed," it is terminated. Then the school district, the county and the city all share the enhanced property tax income. Termination also means that if key projects are not done using the urban renewal dollars, our area would then have to compete for funding with all other Portland needs.
The South Portland Neighborhood Association is very concerned that needed key components will not be constructed before the North Macadam Urban Renewal District is terminated, and thus funding could be lost. The SPNA is sending a letter to Prosper Portland strongly supporting three major construction projects: Bond Avenue (Zidell property), the north and south reach Willamette River greenways and the South Portal (entrance and exit of the southern part of the district). Urban renewal dollars are available, but only for about two of the three projects.
The three boards of directors of the Meriwether, Atwater and John Ross all have given their support to the construction of Bond Avenue and the north reach greenway. The Alamo-Manhattan developers have agreed to the construction of the south reach greenway in their first phase of construction, which should start in June. This phase will construct two high-rise towers. Their second phase will bring a pair of medium-rise towers and hopefully a grocery store.
Dr. Roger L. Gertenrich is a former Salem mayor and city councilor and an active South Waterfront area resident.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.