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PDC gets out to meet and greet

2 public hearings on Burnside Bridgehead follow critical report

The Portland Development Commission will hold one of its most ambitious outreach efforts ever on Saturday when all four board members and more than a dozen employees are scheduled to attend an open house on the Burnside Bridgehead project.

The open house will occur just days after a City Club study committee released a report criticizing the PDC for making many important decisions without sufficient public feedback. Nancy Hamilton, Mayor Tom Potter's chief of staff, said the forum reflects his goal of making all city agencies Ñ including the PDC Ñ more responsive to Portlanders.

'Tom wants to be sure that the public has every opportunity to weigh in on this important project. It will be the gateway to the east side, and it is critical that it succeeds,' Hamilton said.

The open house will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. It will begin with remarks by board Chairman Matt Hennessee and includes round-table discussions with the board members and employees who are working on the project.

'This is an opportunity for people to talk directly to the board about what they would like to see in this project,' said PDC spokeswoman Martha Richmond.

Three development companies have submitted proposals for the project, which will remake five blocks of underdeveloped land near the east end of the Burnside Bridge. The project became controversial because two of the proposals included big-box retailers Ñ a Home Depot and Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse.

The developers recently said they would drop the national chain stores after hundreds of Portlanders and a majority of the City Council came out against them.

Comments and suggestions generated at the open house will be summarized and become part of the official record on the project, Richmond said.

The PDC board also will take public testimony on the project Feb. 9 and Feb. 23, when they are scheduled to choose the developer. Both hearings will begin at 3 p.m. at the agency's headquarters, 222 N.W. Fifth Ave.