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Amanda Fritz casts dissenting vote

With Commissioner Amanda Fritz casting the sole dissenting vote, the Portland City Council approved the creation of a new Urban Renewal Area around Portland State University on Wednesday.

Fritz said she supported the goal of PSU expanding to accomodate projected growth and research opportunities, but felt that was the state's job because PSU is part of Oregon's higher education system.

Because Commissioner Dan Saltzman was absent, the vote was 3 to 1 in favor of creating the district. Mayor Sam Adams and commissioners Nick Fish and Randy Leonard brushed aside objections the area around PSU is not blighted, as required by state law. An analysis by the Portland Development Commission concluded it met the legal definition, which includes underdeveloped properties such as surface parking lots.

The plan will invest tax increment funds in the 144-acre Education Urban Renewal Area and establishes long-term partnerships between PSU, Portland Public Schools, Multnomah County and the City of Portland. Goals include helping PSU become a leading engine of economic growth, fostering prosperity by creating an environment of educational excellence, attracting private investment, enhancing blighted properties and developing the region's workforce.

Among other things, the EDURA will provide up to $169 million for investments that leverage research facilities, business accelerators, affordable housing, and private development.

'The Education URA will be a transformative initiative and partnership, growing a great urban university to serve a healthy, prosperous, educated and equitable city, said Mayor Sam Adams.

"This is a testament to the partnership we have with the city and the county," said Wim Wiewel, president of PSU. "They recognize that a great city needs a great university and today the council cast their votes to help make that happen. This is a long-term investment in education and economic development. I look forward to working with city council, PDC, and the county commissioners in continuing to serve the growing needs of our region."

The plan takes effect in June, 30 days after Council approval. Money is anticipated to flow to the urban renewal area beginning in Fiscal Year 2013-14.

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