During the pandemic, I have been doing a lot of reading about the history of my neighborhood, Eliot. I came across a number of plans from the 1960’s and 1970’s that affected inner North Portland. Joseph Cortright put together a 3-part series on how the Oregon Department of Transportation destroyed Albina, the biggest cultural center for Black Portlanders at the time. At the same time, Emanuel Hospital was expanded intentionally into the area between N Williams and N Kerby all the way to I-5/I-405. This was presaged by a short study called the Central Albina Study which recommended most of what is now the Eliot Neighborhood be demolished for Industry. Warehouses were recommended west of MLK Jr Blvd and South of N Fremont. This was later amended to west of N Williams avenue.
In order to have more productive and transparent conversations with developers and the city, Eliot Neighborhood Association’s Land Use and Transportation Committee drafted the Development Feedback Framework.
HISTORY The vacant land bordering N. Russell, Williams and Vancouver streets on the Legacy Emanuel campus was once part of a thriving community called Albina that housed most African Americans in Portland and Oregon during the 1940s and 50s. Institutional racism made it illegal and difficult to own land as a minority. With few options beyond Portland’s least desirable areas, African Americans primarily settled in the city’s northeast quadrant.
I think it is probably time for me to step down. It has been 10+ years of involvement with the ENA Land Use committee and quite a few as chair. During that time we have gone from a bust-to-boom economy and that means a bunch of new buildings in the works. While many under-constructions projects are about to start renting out units, another cluster of buildings on the North Williams corridor is in the works with 4 new proposals adjacent to Williams and Cook alone. Portland’s new zoning map will be going into effect any day now and that might mean another flurry of proposals under the new rules, or a gentle slowdown in the incoming permits.
The Eliot Land Use & Transportation committee has had a busy few months. We have a few new energetic members, and we have been busy discussing projects as well.
On the transportation side of things, we have been discussing the possibility of installing a parking permit district in southern Eliot. I am really curious to hear what you think of this. This doesn’t affect me personally, as I live on a block that would be outside of this district. I live on a block that seems to have enough space for everyone to park most of the time. However I realize that there are some who park on the next block over every day, and they feel like it is a problem for them to park on a regular basis.
There are two new proposals for changes to zoning codes in residential zones; Better Housing by Design and the Residential Infill project. The recently (almost) completed Comprehensive Plan process changed “zoning;” where housing, commercial, and industrial uses can be located and the level of development intensity in each. Residential zones are split between “single family” zones (R2.5, R5, and R10) and “multi-family zones” (R3, R2, R1, and RH) – each zone is listed from lowest to highest development density. Roughly half of Eliot’s residential lots are expected to be rezoned to R 2.5 from the current R2 zone. The rest of Eliot’s residential zones are R 2 or higher. In addition, most of the properties along MLK and Williams/Vancouver are zoned CM for mixed use projects up to 65’ tall.
Another turn around the sun and a number of new buildings coming to Eliot. We’ve got a bunch of under-construction projects, including two projects on MLK – Cascadia’s Garlington Center at NE Morris Street (housing and social services) and PCRI’s C-shaped building a few blocks up between Cook and Ivy. There are also two projects going up in the southern Vancouver/Williams Corridor- 160 Units at Hancock and another 45 on Vancouver near Page. A co-housing complex is going up at 20 NE Tillamook and Bridge Housing is proposing a 4-story building at Williams and Tillamook as well.
I’ll talk transportation first because there are a few things happening on this front. TriMet has a survey of what improvements they should make this year. There was a bump in bus funding statewide as part of a large transportation package that passed this year. At the top of Eliot’s priority list would be extending line #24 to NW Portland. The #24 is currently a marginally useful line that runs from Legacy Emanuel hospital east along Fremont to Gateway TC. The proposal is to have the line continue westward across the Fremont bridge to Goose hollow, connecting to the MAX on both ends.
It has been a boom and bust time recently on our committee. Some months, we have nothing to talk about and others we are swamped with multiple development proposals. Due to the rezoning proposal we pushed in Eliot, some properties have been rushing to get plans approved while others wait for the new zoning to take effect before starting their proposals. Portland’s Comprehensive Plan for 2035 (now in it’s 7th or 8th year of work) is going to be adopted January 1st and minor revisions to the zoning map are ongoing. Recently, we have noted that a few proposed projects on North Williams have been stalled due to funding issues, but we will continue to see more large buildings going in in the future.
52-Unit Apartment Building to Bring New Life on Monroe and MLK
Eliot is experiencing a sustained building boom that is slowly replacing housing that was lost by original residents, the majority being African Americans. With the new Cascadia campus on MLK and Monroe, the neighborhood has a chance to revitalize and provide some housing relief for families that have been forced to leave as the neighborhood transitioned.
Environmental Services is designing a project to construct, replace, or repair up to 10,000 feet of public sewer pipes in the southern portion of the Eliot Neighborhood. Many of the existing combined sewer pipes are deteriorating due to age or are undersized for the sewer and stormwater flows in this area. This project is one of many that will protect the public and the environment by reducing the possibility of sewage releases to homes, businesses and streets.
Emanuel Hospital representatives recently met with the Eliot Land Use Committee for their annual report. They are about to embark on a major expansion on the West side of their campus (by Kerby, near I-5). They will be building a large building on the site with even more parking and a new burn center that would be the first renovation for that center in a long time. The building looks like a giant wall, but it is not in an area that usually has people walking in it so maybe that is ok. Members of the committee were not excited about the design of the building, however the improvements to the hospital sound really exciting and it is a huge asset to have a top tier hospital in the area.