PORTLAND-Downtown developer Tom Moyer and former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt are gaining on their goal of seeing park blocks run the entire length of downtown Portland. Currently, five developed commercial blocks separate the city’s north and south park blocks. Moyer kick-started the effort to close the gap in 1999 by donating $5 million to purchase one of the blocks, a parking lot immediately west of his Fox Tower office development. An announcement later today will reveal that Moyer and Goldschmidt have successfully recruited other civic leaders into their effort, and the group is negotiating the acquisition of portions of two more obstructing blocks.

The group is said to be in final negotiations for two parcels, and have already secured agreements to acquire two others. Apartment developer Joe Weston has agreed to donate one of the necessary parcels, the Stevens Building at 812 SW Washington St, and Lawrence Ryan and Don Valaster have reportedly accepted an offer for their Eaton Hotel at 620 SW Ninth Ave. The properties still being negotiated for include the Woodlark Building at 813 SW Alder St. and a neighboring property at 830 SW Alder St.

In addition to Moyer and Goldschmidt, who has been leading downtown revitalization efforts since the 1970s, the park block investors include developer John Gray, arts patron Arlene Schnitzer, lawyers Jim Westwood and Brian Booth, and Well Fargo Bank president George Passadore. If successful with this latest effort, just about half of the five obstructing blocks will have been acquired, turning what many thought was a pipe dream into a possibility, considering the high-profile pressure that will rest on the outstanding property owners.

Still, there are huge hurdles. Half of one block they need was just redeveloped into a bran new boutique hotel, for example, and some property owners haven’t expressed a willingness to sell. Regardless, the ultimate plan is to have those would-be Central Park Blocks be more commercial than the existing blocks, with a thinner grassy area lined with small cafes and stores. Beneath it all would be a 3,500-slip, mechanized parking garage.

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