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PORTLAND-The Downtown Waterfront Urban Renewal Area will persist for another four years. The Portland Development Commission voted Wednesday to extend the URA’s life and continue to issue bonds in order “to “finish what we started in building a healthy Downtown,” says PDC executive director Don Mazziotti.

PDC commissioners say they soon will begin detailing priority projects to be completed with private and public partners. “We have been reviewing this decision for three months, meeting with our taxing district partners and Downtown business and community groups, and receiving feedback from private citizens at public meetings and through email and letters,” adds Mazziotti. “The large majority of our partners and constituents really want us to extend the Area Plan, and we are listening.”

As the city’s urban renewal agency, the PDC charge is to serve as a catalyst for, and a participant in, a collective, public effort to focus attention and resources in blighted or underused areas to stimulate private investment and improve livability. Currently PDC manages 10 active urban renewal areas within the City of Portland.

Projects within a URA are funded with public bonds that are paid off by the increase in property tax revenue created from improvements to properties within the URA. Projects completed under the Downtown Waterfront Urban Renewal Area include public works projects such as Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Pioneer Courthouse Square and the Saturday Market, and commercial developments such as the Pioneer Place retail development.

Metro, Multnomah Educational Service District, the Port of Portland, Tri-Met and Multnomah County have all sent letters supporting this decision. Additionally, at a public hearing in November, all but one testified in support of extending the district and issuing additional bonds.

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