Albina Vision Trust gets first dibs on PPS headquarters
Portland Public Schools will give Albina Vision Trust first dibs on its headquarters in the Rose Quarter. The Portland School Board unanimously approved a plan to give the nonprofit group first right of offer on a future purchase of the school district's Blanchard Education Service Center building on North Dixon Street, within Portland's lower Albina district.
School district officials said if the district ever plans to sell, transfer, or lease the property, it must give notice to Albina Vision Trust and allow the group first purchasing rights.
"In 2000, PPS granted a first right to purchase the BESC to Multnomah County as part of a long term lease agreement," Karen Werstein, public information officers for PPS, said. "Because Multnomah County shares Albina Vision Trust's commitment to creating a more equitable future and ensuring that children and families can thrive, it is now relinquishing its first purchase rights to AVT."
The plan is to have Albina Vision Trust acquire the building as part of the group's larger plans to transform 94 acres of lower Albina. AVT seeks to reimagine Portland's lower Albina district which saw thousands of predominantly Black residents displaced to make way for new development, including Interstate Avenue and the I-5 freeway during the 1960s. Albina was originally its own city, until it was annexed into the city of Portland.
"Our city's history is heavy with institutional and structural racism, and the intentional destruction and dismantling of the Albina neighborhood and its historically Black community is a particularly stark and sad example. I am proud that we are taking this step to be a part of reimagining a neighborhood where all residents, especially its Black residents can live, work and thrive," PPS Director Michelle DePass said in a news release issued by the school district Tuesday, prior to the board's vote to approve the plan later that evening.
The school district headquarters aren't currently up for sale, but the resolution means any future sale would see AVT get the first right to bid on the property.
AVT Board Chair Rukaiyah Adams found herself emotional during Tuesday's board action.
"It is a true gift to engage with the various forms of government and overshight in such a constructive and loving way," Adams said. "What you are doing is teaching us how to love in public policy and civic leadership. In return, the Albina Vision team will commit to excellence, will commit to healing, will commit to shared prosperity for generations."
Adams and school board members said the resolution was particularly salient on the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's death.
"Today is a step in the right direction," Kali Thorne-Ladd told the board. Thorne-Ladd is the executive director of Kairos PDX and a Portland Community College board member. "One day children will look back on this day and look at this recording and they will see you stood for justice, that you stood for children, for the Black community and really communities of color who have been disenfranchised for too long, so I thank all of you."
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