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Hales details urban renewal changes

Mayor Charlie Hales has begun detailing some of the changes he will propose to six of Portland's 11 urban renewal areas during Wednesday's meeting of the City Council.

The changes include specific spending proposals for Portland State University meant to maintain the city's commitment to the university while ending the new Education URA created to benefit it.

The mayor’s proposal would provide $158 million in additional property taxes to local governments — the city, county and state school fund — over 30 years. It does so without asking for a single new dollar from taxpayers, by putting $1.06 billion of property back onto the tax rolls. The additional money would otherwise be collected and spent by the city for urban renewal and housing projects.

“To our knowledge, no one in Portland has ever done this before,” Hales said. “This proposal asks: Are we using urban renewal correctly? Is it doing what it’s supposed to do? And can we make our existing tax base serve all the local governments better, without asking for any new tax dollars?”

The proposal calls for altering six urban renewal areas, including the Education URA. Hales’ plan would alter the adjacent North Macadam URA to help benefit PSU instead.

The list of proposed actions includes:

? PDC’s transfer of its ownership of the Jasmine Block (between Southwest Fourth and Fifth, Harrison and Montgomery) to PSU.

? PDC’s support of the redevelopment of University Place, 310 S.W. Lincoln St., both as a long-term development partner and investor.

? PDC’s partnership with TriMet to convey the rights to develop, own and transfer the Budget Rent a Car property, 2033 S.W. Fourth Ave., to PSU.

? Tax increment financing assistance for renovation of PSU’s School of Business Administration property (615 S.W. Harrison) and School of Engineering property.

? The city’s agreement to lease or purchase at least 30,000 square feet of space in a newly constructed or remodeled PSU building.

According to the mayor's Office, the city of Portland, PSU and the Portland Development Commission have signed a preliminary letter of partnership toward the terms and conditions of a master development agreement for PSU-related projects. A formal agreement will be negotiated in the coming months, defining the city’s and PDC’s best efforts to support PSU’s long-term growth, subject to approval by the Portland City Council and the PDC Board of Commissioners as well as PSU leadership.

The final agreement will be negotiated at the same time as the PDC pursues work on the urban renewal package being presented before the City Council on Wednesday, May 7. All parties intend to have the related North Macadam and Central Eastside Renewal Area amendments and a negotiated final agreement approved by Dec. 1, 2014.

“The PSU president and I have been talking about this for months,” Hales said. “The city, PDC and PSU have a long history of working together. This agreement marks a significant milestone in our continued collaboration to fulfill PSU’s destiny as one of the great urban universities in the U.S.”

“The mayor and I understand the importance of PSU’s role in the city, and the city's role in PSU,” said Wim Wiewel, president of Portland State University. “The final agreement would provide PSU an immediate savings of about $400,000 a year while contributing more than $25 million over the next 10 years to accommodate future growth.”

PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton agreed. “PSU’s success is vital to the Portland economy,” he said. “We’re firmly committed to the kind of development investments that will accelerate research and intellectual capital and promote small business growth.”

The proposed agreement addresses actions related to multiple properties, including potential investments funded by tax increment financing (TIF) from an expanded and extended North Macadam URA.