Beginning in January, six graduate students from Portland State University’s Masters in Urban & Regional Planning program began exploring a long-forgotten part of Oregon City to investigate interest in the idea of re-introducing residential units back into downtown.

The team of graduate students developed an online community input survey that will help inform further discussion on the issues of re-introducing residential capacity back into downtown Oregon City. The survey can be accessed via: The survey is open through May 8 and coincides with an open house style event which invites downtown stakeholders and the public to share their opinions that Wednesday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Nebbiolo, 800 Main St.

Through a partnership with the nonprofit Main Street Oregon City, these graduate students have been researching local trends in housing, expectations of downtown employees who might choose to live downtown, the experiences of other communities that have residential capacity in their downtown, as well as the expectations of development professionals who invest time, energy and resources in small urban in-fill projects that could fit into the downtown marketplace.

The graduate students, working as a team called Five to Nine Consulting, picked this capstone style workshop project from over 40 other learning opportunities. They chose their name because they realized the idea of re-introducing residential capacity back into downtown Oregon City would create an “18-hour downtown” with more economic activity.

“Residential activity is an important next step in revitalizing downtown Oregon City,” said Lloyd Purdy, director of MSOC Inc. “When people move back into downtown Oregon City, a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. commercial center becomes a real neighborhood again.”

Downtown property owners, developers and investors have begun to explore what residential space might look like at specific locations downtown. This project will help develop a road map that guides how the community arrives at the point where market-driven housing is a realistic option for downtown Oregon City.

A residential development strategy has been successfully used in communities across the country and throughout the Pacific Northwest to revitalize the urban core of small cities like Oregon City.

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