A new developer is in talks with the City of Portland development agency Prosper Portland to revive the Broadway Corridor proposal, a planned redevelopment of a 34-acre site in Northwest Portland. As they evaluate how the project could move forward, they’ll be reviewing whether they can stick to the terms of a landmark community benefits agreement negotiated by unions and community groups.
The Broadway Corridor project would create a neighborhood of mixed residential and commercial buildings on 16 city-owned blocks in Old Town/Chinatown, mostly property formerly home to a U.S. Postal Service processing facility. In 2018, the City selected Denver-based Continuum Partners as lead developer and adviser. Unions and community groups took interest in the massive project, wanting to ensure it had positive impacts for Portland residents, like awarding bids to responsible contractors, paying prevailing wage and using union labor. Acting together as the Healthy Communities Coalition, the groups became a negotiating partner on the project, and worked with Prosper Portland and Continuum to reach a community benefits agreement (CBA).
Negotiations took nearly two years, with much haggling over labor standards and specifics like how the CBA would be enforced. But by September 2020, they reached an agreement that was set to ensure years of work for union trades workers, and Portland City Council signed off on the deal. For privately-funded portions of the project, the CBA committed the developer to pay prevailing wage, negotiate project labor agreements with local building trades unions and use union contractors, and meet apprenticeship and minority/women hiring percentages. The publicly funded infrastructure was already required to meet those standards.
But a year later, Continuum pulled out of the project, leaving the development—and the CBA—up in the air. The Healthy Communities Coalition was anxious to find out whether a future developer would be expected to adhere to the agreement, but there were few concrete answers.
Fast forward to Jan. 6, 2023, when Prosper Portland executive director Kimberly Branam signed an exclusive negotiation agreement with Related California, as first reported by The Oregonian. Related is a San Francisco-based developer that opened a Portland office in 2018 but lost out to Continuum in its bid to be the master developer for the Broadway Corridor. Now it could get that chance, if it can reach agreement with Prosper. Local commercial real estate firm Melvin Mark is working with Related to explore the project.
The agreement commits Prosper Portland to negotiating exclusively with Related, but that doesn’t mean the negotiations will reach agreement and the development will move forward.
The developers will “conduct detailed review of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) term sheet as presented to City Council, and identify any feasibility concerns of proposed terms, including any implementation and/or financial challenges to implementing said benefit,” the document says. A Prosper Portland spokesperson told the Labor Press the CBA is “one of many elements” that will be reviewed by the Related team. The agreement states these feasibility analyses will be completed by December 2023.