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PORTLAND-The Portland City Council recently approved the formation of a new urban renewal area comprising the industrial zoned sections of North and Northwest Portland along the Willamette River. The goal is to make them more attractive for industrial development and new family wage jobs. Part of the impetus is the opportunity to partner with Siltronic in developing its new silicon wafer fab plant in Northwest Portland. The City owns one of two sites being considered by Siltronic for the new $466 million plant, which would bring more than 500 new jobs to the city. At a recent City Council hearing, Siltronic’s President Neil Nelson announced that his company is scheduled to make its decision next year. The URA was requested by the Portland Development Commission. PDC’s proposal to form the new URA follows a recommendation in the Citywide Industrial Land Inventory and Assessment Study, a two-year collaborative process developed in partnership with industrial stakeholders, bureau and agency partners, and business and property owners in the city. The study, completed in 2002, identified constraints and opportunities to improve the city’s industrial land base and assist the city’s industrial sector. The primary constraints included a severe lack of developable sites for new industrial development, site contamination, lack of infrastructure and inaccessibility. The study found that currently 62% of industrial sites in the city are outside URAs, leaving the city few if any tools to assist in redevelopment of these areas. The study provided recommendations to address these challenges, including the formation of an industrial urban renewal area. The new URA will provide PDC the financial tools to assist property and business owners in the clean up and redevelopment of contaminated sites. Many of the properties within the URA suffer from contamination due to previous industrial uses. While the City and PDC will not assume responsible parties’ financial obligations to clean up these sites, PDC can use urban renewal funds to assist owners who are taking actions to address the problem.

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