City approves plan for 'new downtown' east of Willamette

City approves plan for 'new downtown' east of Willamette »Play Video
Over the next 25 years, the city plans to make the Lloyd District look more like downtown with taller buildings and with the potential for about 5,000 housing units and 10,000 new jobs.

PORTLAND, Ore. – By 2035 Northeast Portland could have a whole new look.

Late Thursday afternoon, the City Council approved a long-term plan to develop the Lloyd District that it hopes will create an area like downtown and bring jobs and livability with it.

There are really two long-term projects in the plan.

The first is known as the North-Northeast quadrant. It has a focus on growing the Lloyd District into an area like downtown while still preserving the industrial character of lower Albina nearby.

The second is the I-5-Broadway-Weidler facility plan. The hope is to make major changes on the freeway and around it.

Both projects are supposed to create areas ready for significant growth.

More restaurants, more businesses and even more places to live in the Lloyd District entice a person like Missy Kieffer who goes to a school in the district. She said she feels JCafé is the only place she can go when she's hungry.

"If I forget to pack a lunch, this is where I'm at – (there are) no other options," she said.

The city wants to increase height restrictions for buildings in the heart of the Lloyd District. The idea is to bring in more buildings that are taller and create a more downtown feel over the next 25 years.

The city estimates that with the potential for 5,000 new housing units and with more office space in the area, the plan could bring 10,000 new jobs.

It's exciting for some business owners like JJ Hewitt of Playground Gym who are already in the area and are ready for new business.

"It's great. This is a perfect area for increased density with the streetcar that's coming along here," he said. "They're on the right track."

That track includes transportation changes like are planned in the second, long-term project improvements to the I-5/Broadway/Weidler interchange.

The plan would make safety improvements to the freeway like adding a lane to make it easier to merge into traffic and widening the shoulder. But there is also a local impact. The plan also adds new local streets that would avoid interchange traffic all together and adds a new bridge for bikes and pedestrians and connect them from the Lloyd District to the Rose Quarter.

Both projects include ideas for more green spaces.

The city is hoping this new downtown east of the Willamette will become a place people will want to work and live.

The funding source for those green spaces and any new pedestrian and bike paths in the Lloyd District is not known yet.

The same goes for the I-5 project, which will likely cost an estimated $400 million. But most of the business and housing growth will ultimately depend on the free market.

There's some modernization work already underway in the Lloyd District. The city is making Multnomah Street into a sort of main street for the area. The road will be re-paved and striped. There will be on-street parking and even bike parking.