Upon visiting Portland, land use attorney Bill Adams, came away with the impression that his own city, as well as other western cities, missed the memo on how to redevelop well. In particular, Portland’s redevelopment efforts either produced or preserved the following livable urban characteristics:
“1) Portland puts street level before skyline. Portland’s skyline is unimpressive. . . In contrast, at street level, Portland seems more an urban environment than its bigger West Coast brethren.
2) Tolerance. . . While signs in other cities speak of banning . . . activities in various locations, Portland appears more ready to embrace, or at least tolerate, all segments of its population.
3) Preservation and adaptive reuse. . . the city appears to have not simply preserved ‘landmark’ buildings, but preserved neighborhood and urban fabric as well.
4) Priority rather than equality for non-auto transportation projects.
5) Grid relief. . . Portland has embraced its few existing alleys (and by appearance, created some new ones) by making them small linear parks, retail arcades, or outdoor patios.
6) Parks. Portland was seventh on a recent ranking of best . . . cities for parks. . . if the ranking was limited to downtowns, Portland would fare even better and some of the other cities in the top ten wouldn’t be there.
7) Trees. Portland, thanks to its abundance of rainy days, is very green. This green extends right into its downtown. Not just little plants and trees but big shade trees. These trees soften downtown’s hardscape and create a park-like feeling in most of downtown.”