By Don McIntosh
Three minutes before a planned July 20 meeting with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, negotiations over a new neighborhood called the Broadway Corridor ended with the Zoom equivalent of a handshake. After a year of talks, the City’s development agency Prosper Portland, Denver developer Continuum Partners, and a union- community alliance called the Healthy Communities Coalition cleared the final hurdles to reach a wide-ranging agreement to guarantee living wage jobs for workers and provide opportunities for women and minorities.
The development centers on the 12-block former U.S. Postal Service (USPS) mail processing plant that was bought by the City of Portland in 2016. If approved as expected by Prosper Portland and Portland City Council, the community benefits agreement (CBA) will require that all construction work on the site, public or private, pay the state-determined prevailing wage. Only contractors that provide full-family health benefits can bid, though that requirement can be waived for state-certified women- and minority-owned contractors bidding on less than $1 million of work. Union and community groups will help oversee compliance with commitments by contractors to employ women and minorities as apprentice and journeymen construction workers. Continuum has also committed to negotiate a project labor agreement (PLA) once it has selected its general contractor, assuring that it will use union construction labor on the project, with limited exceptions. The deal also commits to respecting union rights for janitors and security guards on the properties once the project is complete.
Neither side is releasing full details yet, but the CBA will be presented to the Prosper Portland board Aug. 12.
Early work on the site has already begun in preparation for demolition.