Mayor Charlie Hales wants to shift tens of millions of dollars in urban renewal money from the spiffy Pearl District into the somewhat ragged Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood to the south.

Though details of the mayor’s pivot to Old Town/Chinatown are still in flux, Hales and the city urban renewal agency that he oversees — Portland Development Commission — are exploring ways to subsidize earthquake retrofits for Old Town/Chinatown commercial buildings, as well as tax breaks, fee waivers and loans to promote development of middle-income housing.

To lay the groundwork for the new emphasis on Old Town/Chinatown, the proposed new PDC budget shifts $32 million out of the long-planned project to buy the U.S. Post Office facility in Northwest Portland during the next five years. Using that and other funding, the budget pumps $56 million more into PDC loan programs in the area. That’s a flexible fund that could be used to subsidize earthquake retrofits and new housing developments in Old Town/Chinatown.

(For a longer look at the mayor’s pivot to Old Town/Chinatown, check the Portland Tribune print edition on Tuesday, March 18.)

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