December 19th, 2008 5:33 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: Sports, City Hall, Business

Merritt Pay? PDC Revisits Convention Center Piggy Bank

Merritt Paulson

One of the big questions around Portland Beavers/Timbers owner Merritt Paulson's proposal to bring Major League Soccer to Portland is what's going to be the source for the $85 million needed to renovate PGE Park and build a new AAA stadium for the Beavers?

A seemingly innocuous late-Friday announcement from the Portland Development Commission (below) may provide an answer. The PDC, the city's economic development arm, wields a tool called tax increment financing that lets the agency borrow against future tax revenues in a given geographic area, then use those tax revenues to pay off the bonds.

Well, PDC's release today highlighted a decision (PDF) made last week to study future uses of the bonding capacity still available in the convention center Urban Renewal District (Here's a map of the district.)

Two points to note: the moribund Memorial Coliseum—currently the most likely site for a new baseball stadium—is in the district. And according to budget data released this week by the Multnomah Tax Supervising and Conservation Commission, there's plenty of dough in the bank—or at least borrowing capacity—to help pay for a new AAA stadium for the baseball Beavers. (Which might be needed, considering the speculative nature of the current plan, which calls for taxing player salaries and collecting ballpark revenues to pay for construction costs).

According to the enormously helpful TSCC, there's $65 million of bonding capacity available in the district. And that's probably enough to tear down the Coliseum and put up a new baseball park—if Paulson can convince Major League Soccer to award Portland a franchise in March.

Whether that's a good idea is anybody's guess. There will certainly be plenty of other developers in line to ask for the same money.

Here's the PDC release:
On December 10, 2008, the Portland Development Board of Commissioners gave the green light to the North/Northeast Economic Development Initiative to find ways to increase jobs and economic development opportunities in the Interstate Corridor and Oregon Convention Center Urban Renewal Areas (URAs). This effort will study the boundaries of the two URAs and recommend any changes, identify existing and new resources that can be used to support the city's economic stimulus efforts, and identify potential projects that support jobs and economic development.

PDC has previously studied and expanded resources for the Central Eastside URA, Lents and the River District URAs. We believe that strengthening neighborhoods and promoting community-level development in North and Northeast goes hand in hand with our efforts to continue to revitalize the central city core. We also anticipate that a similar study will look at a new urban renewal area in the central city, and that these two studies will proceed on a coordinated basis.

The North/Northeast study areas include the Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. corridor and other small business-rich commercial corridors along Interstate Avenue, Alberta, Williams, Killingsworth, Denver, Lombard, Mississippi, and others. It is also an opportunity to focus resources on areas of the city that have been traditional underserved.

PDC is excited to work with the North/Northeast community, and we'll engage residents, businesses and stakeholders to develop a thorough and inclusive public process. We're committed to working with existing residents and businesses to improve the great communities that are already there. The Interstate Corridor and Oregon Convention Center URAs are the most diverse urban renewal areas in Portland, and PDC will approach this study in culturally competent ways, including multilingual capabilities, so that the process is open and available to all residents and businesses who want to participate.

Watch the video: North/Northeast Economic Development Study

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