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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rose Quarter Must Become "Authentically Portland."

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 at 1:14 PM

As mariachi music emanated through council chambers from Mexican Independence Day celebrations taking place on City Hall's first floor, Mayor Adams and team kicked off the first meeting of the much-discussed Rose Quarter development stakeholder advisory committee last night. The group will recommend future plans for the Rose Quarter and Memorial Coliseum.

As mapped out here, the group of 32 (gah!) Portlanders will listen to various groups' development ideas for the area and advise city council on which plan to pursue.

32 cooks, one kitchen.
  • 32 cooks, one kitchen.

The Rose Quarter development should be "authentically Portland," said Adams, at the beginning of the meeting. "We’re an indie city with a do-it-yourself city kind of ethos," he continued, making me vomit just a little bit.

But Adams had a good point. "If we’re trying to come up with something that’s authentically Portland, we’re going to have to understand who’s in the room to define what’s authentic," he said, getting the committee members to fill out an instant demographic survey. Turns out the group skews whiter, more male, more educated and much wealthier than Portlanders as a whole.

Committee member Greg Phillips wondered about the difficulties of "older, white relatively wealthy men trying to envision a future for a place that will be used by all of Portland." Other questions certain committee members brought up seem to indicate that the group won't automatically roll over for high-powered developers. Member Walter Valenta sharply asked whether the Trailblazers and Portland Arena Management (PAM), who own special development rights in the Rose Quarter since they invested millions in the area, would have veto power over the committee's recommendations.

"The short answer is yes," replied Adams, adding that he hoped the discussion wouldn't "devolve" into the committee vs. PAM. "In order to get private money on the table, we have to get public and private in agreement."

"Are there any other examples of stadiums in complete communities? There are ways that stadiums have been developed that are quasi-authentic, in a fake downtowny sort of way that I’m not really interested in pursuing," Valenta also asked.

Adams encouraged new groups and agencies to submit plans for what to do with the area and said the group would be getting feedback and ideas via crowdsourcing (Twitter?!?!). When the meeting wrapped up, the serious crowd spilled out into City Hall, which was packed with Mexican festivities including free tacos and costumed dancers. Portland City Hall: come for the civics lesson, stay for the complimentary margaritas.

Update 2:20PM: I was totally right about the Twittering for development plans.

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