At Northwest Ninth Avenue and Johnson Street, dignitaries posed for photos Thursday morning, Feb. 16, and cheered an excavator as it picked away at a corner of the partially-destroyed Pearl District Post Office.
This is the most progress seen on the Broadway Corridor Project to date. By the end of the year the majority of the site will be cleared. The parking garage section will remain and will continue to host a small retail post office for two more years, according to a timeline on a posterboard, which stretched from 2015 to 2030.
Speaking at a podium, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, City Commissioner Carmen Rubio, Prosper Portland Executive Director Kimberly Branam and labor representative Twauna Hennessee touted the diversity of the workers involved in the demolition project. Mayor Ted Wheeler was a surprise addition to roster.
Wheeler talked about how the future development of housing, offices, retail and parks will be a gathering place for everyone. Branam said the development would one day join such iconic Portland spots as Pioneer Courthouse Square and Gateway Discovery Park. The discussion was about who would build the buildings, and the city’s hope to use as much minority-owned workforce as possible. Labor leaders dug into coffee and pastries and listened to speeches, which were hopeful but lacked specifics about when the new buildings would be completed.
Demolition of the United States Postal Service Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) building is the most obvious change to date. The site is now owned by Prosper Portland and the Portland Housing Bureau. Dubbed the Broadway Corridor Milestone Event, the goal of Thursday’s gathering was to celebrate the start of work to demolish the former PD&C in Northwest Portland. The work actually began months ago but has accelerated recently and become visible from the Broadway Bridge ramp.
Rubio said, “We’re achieving unheard of results for our contractor utilization. Of the $35 million invested in preparing this site for developments, $32 million will go directly to MBE-certified firms, and more than 70% of hours worked will be by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color).”
Prosper Portland bought the 14-acre post office site in 2016 for $88 million from the federal government. A 2018 agreement with Colorado-based developer Continuum Partners fell apart in 2021. The developer Related California has partnered with local company Melvin Mark Properties on a feasibility study of the site, to see what can be built there for a profit. News from that study is unlikely to appear until 2024.
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