January 4, 2016 /
Portland’s urban renewal story is known country-wide as being successful. It’s a tale that includes community, innovation, eco-conscious measures, much of which was lampooned in hit comedy sketch show, Portlandia. The redevelopment has become a case study for developers of other major cities because Portland is more like the girl-next-door of cities, rather than having the untouchable status that a place like New York City or Chicago has. That is, Portland felt the need for a full renewal—not just a new city hall or a waterfront update—and they felt that they had more to prove to keep suburban Portland interested and invested in the city center. Portland has managed to establish a completely new urban eco-system over the turn of the century. Here are four reasons that renewal is one of the best in the world.
1. PORTLAND ISN’T A SKYLINE CITY They are fine with having an unimpressive skyline if that means giving dedicated attention to the street level activity. Portland preserves and rebuilds lower-rise buildings and rarely grants permits for taller buildings. The tallest building in Portland is the 41-storey U.S. Bancorp Tower, built in 1983, which is far shorter than the tallest buildings in most other major cities in the country. Recently, a smattering of other high-rise condos recently popped up around the South Waterfront area to address the city’s growing popularity among young, liberal professionals.
2. PRESERVATION AND REUSE Portland makes its heritage buildings work hard, because they believe that the greenest building is the one that is already built, and Portland loves it’s green-centric buildings. From old factories to ship-building facilities, the city aims to preserve heritage buildings but update them so that they meet sustainable building standards. It all begins with waste minimization, eliminating the unusable waste that is created when a building is demolished.
3. PRIORITY FOR NON-AUTO TRANSPORTATION Portland is on track to become the next Amsterdam, at least when it comes to cycling safety and access. In fact, they are way ahead of most warm weather cities, starting with the installation of a complete bike lane network that, thanks to plenty of bike lanes and parking, competes with automobiles as a safe and effective way to travel.
4. PARKS AND TREES Portland was ranked as the seventh best city for parks. Not only do they preserve green space but they build existing spaces up by regenerating the tree population and growing co-op gardens in certain communities.