Life in Portland Blog

Lombard Investment Strategy: What's Next?

Max's Fanno Creek Brew Pub in Tigard.  The introduction of the colorful seating area to the front of the recessed building completely changes the feel. These are the building by building and business by business changes the PDC is hoping to inspire on Lombard.

This past Tuesday evening, several Urban Nesters - most of them proud NoPo residents - attended the Portland Development Commission's (PDC) presentation, Lombard Street Investment Strategy. The goal is to revitalize the stretch of Lombard from Chautauqua to Williams Avenues, while honoring the historical and cultural identity of the neighborhoods involved, and for local businesses to not only stay, but thrive. With a $1.5M budget in hand, this project seeks to make significant and lasting changes that can carry the momentum into the continuing evolution of the street.

Michele Reeves of Civilis Consultants shared learnings from their interviews with local entrepreneurs and residents about their feelings regarding Lombard as it is, and how it could be in the future. Key focus areas ("nodes") were highlighted, and Michele offered hypothetical scenarios for mindful improvement. She also provided Before & After examples of commercial traffic corridors in other states, with the Before images illustrating depressing, high-density commercial wastelands and the After images of those same areas transformed into bikeable, walkable green spaces with bustling small businesses with distinct and welcoming 'identities'.

Small business owners will be offered a range of support systems, including design consultations to help them revive their fading exteriors and the PDC plans to add locale-relevant artwork, appropriate night lighting for pedestrian safety, and other updates to help alter Portlanders' impression of this much maligned and overlooked area. Many of the existing business owners, who did not know each other and were unaware of many of the services provided on Lombard Street, were encouraged to connect and work together to improve their district - and their businesses - with the aim of becoming a consumer destination. 

Michele remarked that she was impressed with the strength and commitment of NoPo residents in bettering their communities. There was a healthy turnout, from locals to state representatives, which provided an excellent and varied Q&A discussion after the presentation.

Following are some of the impressions our attending Agents had the morning after:

"I learned so much about storefronts & advertising. I am grateful that there is a crew of positive people ready to lead in the scrubbing & repainting of our 'hood. I am, however, cautious of things changing too much, too fast, and becoming a different street entirely. Rejuvenation is a positive, where I feel that complete change is not." - Agent Sarah Moon Lunde, Kenton resident

" a community, we get to have a say in this process. We're being encouraged to speak up and participate. I see really good things to come, and a sea-change for N Lombard St. It's an amazing opportunity for business owners on Lombard, and will really inspire a change of relationship to the street, for all the people that live in adjacent neighborhoods." 
- Agent Wren Shiffler, Woodlawn resident

"North Portland is shaping up to be a thriving community that retains the weirdness and diversity that Portlanders love, yet lends itself to growth and new possibilities not yet explored in the community. When the Lombard redevelopment project gets off the ground and receives awareness and community/city support, it has the opportunity to change the way people look at NoPo."
- Agent Haley Overton, St. Johns resident

"It felt like they were really focusing on the inclusion of current business owners and locals, which is super important! The biggest takeaways I got were the need to focus on the road itself in order to become more attractive to pedestrians and bikers, to focus on sidewalks and grabbing attention from the street/sidewalk level, and the importance of paint color and a sense of identity for each business."
- Agent Renee DeCuire, Buckman resident

The PDC is offering is offering walking tours at various times from May 6th to May 13th, to visit three key focus areas along Lombard and discuss which streetscape improvements will have the biggest impact for the funding available. More information and sign up are available here