Downtown Portland is Growing Up

Jul 01, 2007

The building boom that's produced Portland's bumper crop of high-rises could spread, changing the look of the city skyline

The South Waterfront Central District development is just one recent infill project that is transforming Portland's cityscape.

The Oregonian's Dylan Rivera looks at Portland's great potential growth could total about 400 acres, from the South Waterfront and moving towards Goose Hollow to the Lloyd District.

“Without so much as a zoning change, developers could double the 103 million square feet that now make up the central city. From the South Waterfront to the River District, from Goose Hollow to the Lloyd District, the city's zoning allows a virtual forest of high-rises. By the city's count, 400 acres of underused property—think surface parking lots, or beat-up buildings worth less than half the value of the land they occupy—is ripe for change.”

“No one knows how long it will take to fill all that land. At the current pace of construction, the doubling would take 75 years. It could take much longer: Downtown has plenty of competitors in the Portland region and worldwide. Or, perhaps the central city will boom beyond anyone's imagination.”

“Soon, ‘the city that plans’ will launch an update of the central city, with new schemes for shaping the coming high-rise growth to fit the region's goals for urban containment. The present plan, adopted in 1988, opened the way for urban expansion into the Pearl District and South Waterfront. And an earlier 1972 Downtown Plan set out a vision for housing west of the Park Blocks that is only now bearing fruit.”

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