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Division neighbors dance in the streets

Annual fair takes place as area embarks on ambitious 20-year-plan

When the Division/Clinton Street Fair happens Saturday, residents and business owners will have a lot to celebrate - including city approval of an environmentally sensitive community plan that already has sparked a wave of sustainable-redevelopment projects.

The 14th annual fair is being sponsored by businesses along both streets. It will extend between Southeast 20th and 27th avenues on Clinton Street and between 12th and 60th avenues on Division Street. Organizers say the fair will include sidewalk sales, activities for children, booths for artisans and community groups, live music and dancing in the streets.

It kicks off with a community parade anyone can join, beginning at 11 a.m. at Southeast 16th Avenue and Division Street. Donations will be accepted for DayBreak Shelter, a nonprofit organization that supports homeless families.

'The fair has grown from a few sidewalk sales to a genuine community celebration,' said organizer Jean Baker, a technical writer and webmaster who works out of her home in the neighborhood.

This year's fair is happening only a few months after the Portland City Council approved the Division Green Street/Main Street plan. It was funded by a $250,000 state Transportation Growth Management grant that brought city planners together with community members to plan how to improve the livability and economic vitality of the Southeast Division Street corridor over the next 20 years.

Because many people who believe in sustainability live in inner Southeast Portland, it's no surprise that the plan reflects their environmental concerns.

Focusing on the area between Southeast 11th and 60th avenues, the project developed policies and strategies to create a pedestrian-friendly commercial district that emphasizes 'green' development. Among other things, it calls for innovative storm-water management projects to keep rainwater runoff out of the sewer system.

Zoning changes included in the plan call for mixed-use developments in the commercial nodes along the street that are separated by residential neighborhoods. Several projects are under way along Division that will feature retail stores on the ground floor topped by residential units.

City planner Jay Sugnet, who worked on the plan, attributed much of the new investment to the certainty that it helps create more for coming years.

'Developers now know what the street is going to look like over the next 20 years,' he said.

The plan is intended to guide the Division Streetscape and Reconstruction Project, which will repave the street and build streetscape improvements between Southeast Sixth and 39th avenues. Funded with $2.5 million in federal transportation funds and a $300,000 city match, the work is scheduled to be completed in 2009.

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