The Hill Block Project Update

Vacant Land at Williams and Russell

A Community-led Effort to Develop the Vacant Block on the Legacy Emanuel Campus

On August 1, 2017, Prosper Portland, the City of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, and Legacy Health announced a collaborative project to develop the Hill Block property.  All three have agreed to work together to facilitate a community-driven process that will determine a community vision and development proposal for the vacant site.

The vacant lot is a 1.7-acre block at North Russell Street and North Williams Avenue, currently owned by Legacy Health and on the Legacy Emanuel Campus.

The focus of the development is to honor Portland’s African-American community, support community housing and economic needs, and further Legacy Health’s mission of promoting health and wellness for children and families. The site is now referred to as the Hill Block, which is the historic name of the building that once occupied the site and served as the center of the African American commercial district from the 1940s to the early 1960s. The Hill Block building’s onion-domed cupola is now located in Eliot Neighborhood’s Dawson Park.

The Hill Block property is located within an area that Prosper Portland and the City of Portland condemned in the early 1970s under urban renewal for an expansion of the hospital campus; this action displaced 171 families, 74 percent of which were African American. Emanuel Hospital (now Legacy Health) purchased land from the Portland Development Commission (now Prosper Portland) and acquired additional properties from individual owners to grow and expand its campus in north/northeast Portland.

Legacy Health, Prosper Portland and the City of Portland have agreed to establish a Project Working Group to lead the community process, oversee a visioning process, and guide the selection of a development team. The goal is to have approximately 20 community members, mainly African American, and representatives from Legacy Health, Prosper and the City. For more information, contact Tory Campbell, Prosper Portland.

By Vicki Guinn and Tory Campbell