Portland Groups Push for Massive Number of Affordable Units and Free Transit Passes for Residents at Old Post Office Site

Healthy Communities Coalition is pushing for changes on the project and potentially others going forward.

Prosper Portland's Lisa Abuaf and Kimberly Branam look out over the future Broadway Corridor development site at the central U.S. Post Office. (Thomas Teal)

A coalition of organized labor, environmental groups and racial and social justice nonprofits are pushing a dramatic vision for the future of the old Post Office site in the Central City.

The Healthy Communities Coalition is asking Prosper Portland, the city's economic development agency, to commit to a wide range of proposals to benefit low-income, working-class and disabled Portlanders at one of the largest proposed housing developments planned near downtown.

In 2016, Prosper Portland (formerly known as Portland Development Commission) purchased the site for $88 million, and agency officials have said they want to make sure the project, known as Broadway Corridor, addresses some of the agency's past failings, including redevelopment that led to rapid gentrification.

Related: Read about the huge potential of the Post Office site here.

The agency and the developer have committed to including what's known as a "community benefits agreement." Now comes the work of hashing out those specifics with the groups representing Portland residents.

In Portland, community benefits agreements have in the past been applied to  construction projects, but the commitments the Healthy Communities Coalition are seeking are much more than that—and more than Prosper Portland has committed to in the past. They include:

—Offering free public transit passes for anyone who lives or works there,

—Making half the apartments on site be affordable,

—Making a quarter of units accessible to disabled people,

—"On-site, affordable childcare,"

—"Good jobs" for everyone that works there, including after construction, and

—Funding investments in the Cully neighborhood to improve air quality and transportation to address the U.S. Post Office's move into that Northeast Portland neighborhood.

The vision from Healthy Communities Coalition will be presented to Prosper Portland at a meeting tonight in Northeast Portland.

"We identified Broadway Corridor as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get development right in city of Portland—to show that the public sector, private sector and the community as whole can benefit from this opportunity as whole," says Vivian Satterfield, deputy director of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, one of the lead organizations for the Healthy Communities Coalition.

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