7-29-01, The Tennessean
ORE., POLISHES ITS GULCH INTO PEARL
Ore. On a chilly, drizzly afternoon, crowds of people mill around
Pioneer Courthouse Square.
the weather, there is energy. Some are waiting to catch a bus or one of
the city's light commuter trains that regularly pass next to the square.
Others are tourists checking out the sights. Still others are shoppers
on their way to the next store.
square is surrounded by office buildings, hotels, restaurants and shopping
that features Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue department stores.
2,350 miles away, those who share a similar dream for Nashville's core
have taken notice.
of urban development in Nashville and elsewhere point to cities such as
Portland as guides for their efforts. Through a Nashville Area Chamber
of Commerce inter-city visit five years ago, city and business leaders
grabbed a first-hand look.
is a really well-done city,'' said Metro Planning Director Rick Bernhardt,
who praised the city's public transportation system. ''They have focused
on building a city that is highly livable.''
said some of what Portland has done is transferable to Nashville and some
Nashville Urban Venture singles out the Pearl District, one of Portland's
hottest redevelopment areas, as an example of its plans for the railroad
gulch at the western edge of Nashville's downtown.
in Portland's River District, an urban renewal area, the Pearl District
is a 20-block stretch of old rail yards and warehouses along the Willamette
River that bisects the city. Redevelopment includes new construction and
renovation of existing buildings that are filled with offices, cafés
Ford, a Portland real estate broker and developer, estimated that about
$300 million has been invested in the area during the past dozen years.
in Nashville, public-private partnerships have steered Portland's redevelopment.
The Portland Development Commission, similar to the Metropolitan Development
and Housing Agency in Nashville, bought property near the Pearl District
in the 1980s to initiate revitalization. It has invested $100 million.
developers credit the city's redevelopment success to an attitude about
planning and design that focuses on urban growth.
all about good planning,'' said Robert Ball, who is converting a 90-year-old
Pearl District warehouse into loft condominiums. ''This has worked for
a lot of years because of a lot of planning.''