Every city has its share of space dedicated to the business of commercial trucking: Desolate stretches of land, usually at the city’s periphery, filled with little else but garages, warehouses and vast parking lots. In Philadelphia, you can find such a space at the eastern edge South Philly, near where I-95 hits I-76. Anyone driving into Washington, D.C. from Baltimore-Washington Parkway will see this same sort of use clustered around a stretch of New York Avenue in the District’s Northeast quadrant.
For Portland, Ore., one such trucking wasteland sits adjacent to the Northwest Industrial district, separating it from the residential Northwest neighborhood. But late last month, the city unanimously approved a redevelopment plan that will change the face of at least one sizable parcel in the area.
Back in April, the trucking company Con-way submitted a master plan to develop an 18-acre site, just west of I-405, that for the moment is mostly asphalt. But the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company wants to clear the way for developers to step in and build up a mixed-use community with retail, housing, office space, park space and a public plaza, all centered around a large grocery store.
Con-way will not act as a developer itself, but will instead lay down the plan’s general framework and then sell parcels off to private developers to handle the actual construction.
Three of five existing buildings on the site (they’re mostly vacant) will likely be demolished to make way for up to 1,500 new housing units. Pedestrian alleyways and bike lines will be carved out of the roughly three-square-block street grid, to emerge after buildings appear on the large surface parking lot that covers much of the site.
Traffic congestion is a primary concern among neighboring residents, according to the Portland Tribute. The Con-way plan does call for an extension of the Portland Streetcar system, although it’s unclear when funding for this will become available, or what the extended route will ultimately look like.
Looking further into the future, one may also wonder what’s in store for the part of the city just a few blocks north. Will the Northwest Industrial district follow suit and turn residential, like so many similar urban districts before it?
According to The Oregonian, the city’s approval of the master plan is final, since a unanimous decision means that no one has standing to appeal to the Portland City Council. Con-way’s vice president told the Portland Tribune that he expects construction to begin as early as January.
For the interim, may we suggest food pods as a possible use for the parking lot?