Founding Member Spotlight: Portland Development Commission

Created by Portland voters in 1958, the Portland Development Commission (PDC) is the City of Portland’s urban and economic development agency. The PDC plays a lead role in Portland’s urban innovation, from developing vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods like the Pearl District to sharing green building practices around the world.

Led by executive director Patrick Quinton and guided by a five-member board of commissioners, PDC’s mission is to create economic growth and opportunity for Portland, with a vision of the city as one of the most globally competitive, equitable and healthy cities in the world.

To accomplish its objectives, PDC uses tax increment financing and shared risk to develop innovative plans and lay down infrastructure that stimulates private development placemaking, creating the kind of livable community that is a model for cities around the world.

Portland's Lloyd EcoDistrict will feature a new public plaza and major face-lift for the aging mall. Photo Credit: Portland Monthly
Portland’s Lloyd EcoDistrict will feature a new public plaza and major face-lift for the aging mall. Photo Credit: Portland Monthly

Lloyd EcoDistrict – PDC was instrumental in the launch of the Lloyd EcoDistrict, a collaboration to build the city’s most sustainable living-and-working district and the harbinger of the national EcoDistricts organization. The agency has also provided support/assistance to the Hassalo on 8th project, an emblem of Portland’s next generation mixed-use development that will demonstrate precedent-setting water conservation with a holistic green infrastructure system.

We Build Green Cities – As one of the few cities in the world that has improved both its economy and environment, Portland has a unique competitive advantage. We Build Green Cities (WBGC) is a close-knit group of public and private agencies and companies (including EcoDistricts) that leverages local projects to promote Portland firms on an international stage and share our best ideas, products, and services with other cities across the globe.

Pearl District – PDC uses public-private partnerships to leverage each sector’s respective expertise and share development responsibilities, ensuring that projects provide public benefits and remain financially solvent. Portland’s proficiency in deploying such policy and planning tools as land use and public financing, coupled with the private sector’s know-how in building development and construction, have created a more sustainable and livable city.

Jamison Square in Portland's Pearl District. Photo Credit: Ankrom Moisan
Jamison Square in Portland’s Pearl District. Photo Credit: Ankrom Moisan

In downtown Portland, nothing is more emblematic of such partnership than the Pearl District, development on a district scale that has succeeded beyond expectation. The integration of transportation, housing, retail and parks within the context of public-private partnership is essential to the Portland model of placemaking and creating healthy neighborhoods. PDC used tax increment financing to construct the basic bones of the area – transit and infrastructure – and required the private developer to incorporate public benefits such as density, open space, and affordable housing in the redevelopment plans.

To date, PDC has invested more than $100 million in urban renewal resources in the district, leveraging more than $2 billion in private investment. Today the Pearl District is truly a jewel in Portland’s urban planning crown, the premier demonstration of the city’s expertise in building a green city.

Follow the PDC’s lead and join the EcoDistricts Community TODAY. Take the EcoDistricts pledge, become a member or make a donation.