The 10-acre site Portland Public Schools now occupies just north of the Rose Quarter could become a Costco, as The Oregonian reported earlier this month.
Or the school district's headquarters—known as the Blanchard Education Service Center—and the area around it could have a much more novel reincarnation as the new home to an "urban winery," a world-class skateboard park, a culinary center, 400,000 square feet of hotel space or a 2,500-seat concert hall.
On Monday night, the Portland School Board approved a new memo of understanding with city officials to explore all those redevelopment prospects for the $7.6 million parcel with the Portland Development Commission. Any drastic plans would require rezoning, fairly significant transportation changes and a lengthy public process. But in a wide-ranging October report, city officials and consultants from three architecture firms (SERA, Mithun and DAO) developed six general concepts for the site and its surroundings. Here are those six ideas and what they really mean.
1. Entertainment If Portlandia is right that we're the city where young people go to retire, this concept could be our new Leisure World.
Possible key elements: A public plaza and sculpture park overlooking the Willamette River; a 2,500-seat entertainment venue; a roller-derby arena; indoor fields for soccer, lacrosse and Frisbee; a rock-climbing gym and a skate park; local restaurants, breweries, vintners and coffee shops.
City description: "A smaller-scale district that hosts a variety of local entertainment venues and attractions that appeal to the unique Portland demographic. The big idea for this district is to execute an entertainment district that celebrates ideas and activities that 'keep Portland weird.'"
2. "Incremental Industrial" This may sound like a new Central Eastside Industrial neighborhood, but analysts say it could also resemble San Francisco's South Park, which was home to several dot-com companies in the 1990s.
Possible key elements: An "urban" winery; a culinary center; rooftop basketball courts; 20,000 square feet of communal shop spaces; 400 live-work units; an independent local film company like Laika.
City description: "If [an] urban winery, vertical farm or other regional culinary center can be attracted to the locations shown, these amenities will draw from and support the Rose Quarter."
3. Big Box Mixed-Use The original idea included two big-box stores. Unlike suburban sites, these retailers would have housing and open greenspace above them, plus bike and pedestrian bridges connecting the stores to city streets.
Possible key elements: The basement at PPS's headquarters could become one big-box store, potentially leaving space for PPS offices above; additional hotel space with ground-level restaurants; and short-term rental trucks for shoppers to haul purchases from retailers.
City description: A "model of progressive urban Big Box mixed-use."
4. Employment Incubator In a city with 10 percent unemployment, the idea is to grow jobs in keeping with Portland's small-business credo.
Possible key elements: Flexible office space for small businesses that don't need or can't afford Class A or Class B office space; shared parking, conference rooms and utilities.
City description: "A compact employment district that supports a variety of business sizes and types."
5. Research and Development Office and lab space for an unspecified R&D company or companies, along with a new, expanded hotel.
Possible key elements: A central open-space zone and retail pavilion; 429,000 square feet of hotel rooms; 525,000 square feet of unspecified "laboratory" space; and 50,000 square feet of retail.
City description: "A series of open spaces are linked together and to the larger community, defining a number of subneighborhoods within the development."
6. Mixed-Use Residential A futuristic plan…only if a development idea introduced in the aughts is considered forward-looking. The proposal calls for commingling retail and residential space.
Possible key elements: More than 1,200 residential units; lofts; and a mass-transit hub connecting light rail to the Portland Streetcar.
City description: "A variety of residential types" with density and retail along Broadway.