Lents Town Center plans revealed

Here’s what the 150 folks who attended saw, as four developers showed their ambitious plans for the languishing urban renewal area …

Although fewer than 100 sent in an RSVP, more than 150 people turned out to learn about the four Lents Town Center projects – tentatively approved, as part of the Lents Five-Year Action Plan.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The Lents Activity Center was buzzing with conversation, as more than 150 people came on the evening of October 27 to learn about four “catalytic” mixed-use projects in Lents Town Center. “Catalytic” is what officials believe they are.

Attendees look at a PDC produced graphic, showing where the four new developments will arise in the Lents Town Center.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales says the Lents community helped steer the Urban Renewal process in their neighborhood.

Before formal presentations began, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales talked with East Portland News about the Lents Urban Renewal Area.

“I go back a little further in history [on this project] than some people, because I was a City Commissioner in 1998, when we created the Lents Urban Renewal Area,” Hales pointed out. “It was this type of community-based redevelopment effort that we had in mind.

“It’s taken longer than it should have; it’s taken longer than many of us who are involved with this believe it should’ve taken,” Hales commented. “This [process of development] really is the model of a community, steering its own plan for the future. We don’t get to stop growth and change, but we will do want to shape it to our vision that we have our neighborhood.”

This annotated aerial photo shows the lots that will be developed – or redeveloped. PDC graphic

Attendees learned that the Portland Development Commission (PDC) has been working to ready the Lents Five-Year Action Plan, calling for focused investments designing buildings that have “the greatest benefit and impact on existing residents and businesses”. Following PDC’s request for interested development partners, issued last fall, they’ve finalized four projects.

Palindrome Communities’ Robert Gibson says their plans call for a mix of apartments and retail or commercial space to be built on the site of the New Copper Penny.

Palindrome Communities, Inc.
Robert Gibson, representing Palindrome Communities, Inc., discussed how their group plans to raze the New Copper Penny and build affordable housing, commercial space, and parking on that lot between SE Woodstock Boulevard and SE Foster Road, between SE 92nd Avenue and the I-205 Freeway.

Additionally Palindrome has optioned to purchase another of PDC’s properties, a 1-acre L-shaped site west of SE 92nd Avenue and south of the gas station.

Williams/Dame & Associates Assistant VP Bim Krumhansl says their apartments will be at both “market rates”, and “affordable rates”.

Williams/Dame & Associates
Bim Krumhansl, Assistant Vice President at Williams/Dame & Associates, showed off their firm’s plans for a building a mix of “affordable and market-rate apartments” plus ground-floor commercial space, and surface parking, on PDC’s .6-acre site at the northwest corner of SE 92nd and Foster Road.

It’s the site currently called “Crossroads Plaza”, and the current location of the Lents International Farmers Market.

ROSE Executive Director Nick Sauvie says their four story, 68-unit apartment development will be built at the current site now accommodating the Famous Belmont Goats. The goats may not have been consulted.

ROSE Community Development Corporation
Nick Sauvie, executive director of ROSE, enthused about their organization’s plans to build on a PDC parcel at SE 91st Avenue and Reedway Street. Their plan calls for a four-story, market rate apartment building called Woody Guthrie’s Place.

“We are planning for an open space in which the Lents International Farmers Market could operate during the summer,” Sauvie said.

Their services and community space will be made available to all of the community, not only Asians, says Asian Health & Services Center Chief Executive Officer Holden Leung.

Asian Health & Services Center
The last presentation was by Asian Health & Services Center Chief Executive Officer Holden Leung. Their organization plans to erect a building envisioned to include medical clinics, offices, and a community meeting space.

They also plan to offer two commercial spaces to be rented at market rate at the building located at west of SE 91st Avenue, along Foster Road.

Within months, he expects ground to be broken on the projects, says PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton.

PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton said all four of the projects have been tentatively approved both by the PDC and the Portland Housing commission. “Each of the team’s managers are moving forward on design and predevelopment,” Quinton told East Portland News. “We hope to see some time in 2016 all for projects breaking ground.”

Lents Neighborhood Association Chair Jesse Cornett watched the presentations. “What is being presented this evening is important, because what it shows is that the City, however belatedly, is actually following through on his promises to our outer East Portland neighborhood.”

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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