Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Urban Renewal Boards continue Edgewater and Portland Road Projects

The West Salem Redevelopment Advisory Board met this morning, and one item is interesting to note. The North Gateway board meets tomorrow, and they have a big new draft of the Portland Road Study.

West Salem Business District Action Plan
Executive Summary, June 26th
You may recall the "districts" from the West Salem Business District Action Plan. Now that the transportation refinement plan is in motion, there's a move for some zoning updates on each of the districts.

On the agenda was discussion of a proposal for a "Business District Zoning Code Clean Up Project." It would
Review existing zoning codes for the West Salem Business District and implement changes to the code that increase the flexibility of uses and encourage development akin to the distinct main street, employment center, and town center areas of the business district; as identified and recommended by the West Salem Business District Action Plan
It is estimated to cost $100,000.

Presumably they will go forward with this, and it will be interesting to follow. There's tons of potential in this area for walkable urbanism, but they will need to steer things this way so as not to entrench excessive autoism.


The North Gateway Redevelopment Advisory Board meets tomorrow, Thursday the 3rd, and they have a new draft of the Portland Road Study to look at.

March 2016 draft
Skimming it, I didn't see anything new - but maybe you will know otherwise if you are following it closely?

Short-term projects
The recommendations seem to follow those laid out last month.

Since we focus here on transportation, a commenter last month gave greater emphasis to the upside and visionary potential of a Mercado and that may be worth more attention. Maybe that's the magic that will make this thing work. If you have an interest there, that's something substantial to rally around and press forward.

(In this light it's also worth pointing out that Vagabond, which employed one of the new "flex spaces" on Hyacinth, is now working on a downtown tap house. One of the short-term projects is to encourage developing more flex space. The Vagabond case is also a clear example of incubating a business on the periphery that then invests downtown. Just from a business development perspective, maybe the City should investigate that success story more closely!)

Realignment on the TSP?

As for transportation, now the recommendations for Portland Road itself say
Implementation of this project will likely require a design exception or Transportation System Plan amendments for interim street standards.
So tracking this with the State Street Study, which suggested "the TSP standard might conflict with the city’s goals under this corridor plan," we perhaps have an emerging pattern:
  • In systemic ways, the current standards of our Transportation System Plan may no longer meet the needs for all road users.
In Bike and Walk Salem, we updated the bicycling and pedestrian chapters of the TSP, but maybe there's a need now for a more comprehensive revision to our whole concept of mobility and street standards.

That's certainly been the position here, that our current standards are still dominated by hydraulic autoism. But to see a similar theme also emerge in two official studies - well, that seems like a non-trivial detail worth attending to.

The North Gateway Redevelopment Advisory Board meets Thursday the 3rd at 8:00 AM in the Center 50+, Classroom A, 2615 Portland Road NE.   

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