City will buy downtown post office, enabling new bikeway links

City will buy downtown post office, enabling new bikeway links

Sunset riders-2

There’s a pot of gold at the west end of the Broadway
Bridge — for someone, at least.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

It looks like inner Northwest Portland is about to get very, very different.

As various outlets have reported, the Portland Development Commission on Wednesday authorized the purchase of the downtown U.S. Postal Service headquarters for $88 million.

That means that if the city can clear up some remaining sticking points and find buyers, hundreds of daily truck trips will vanish from the Pearl District area; a major blue-collar downtown employer will probably relocate to a site near the airport, replaced by a mix of market-rate housing, office jobs and affordable housing; and the street grid between the north Pearl and Willamette River will connect for the first time in more than 50 years.

And as we reported in September, it’ll also mean three new or improved bikeway connections to the Broadway Bridge, including the promise of a route that winds straight down to the North Park Blocks.

complete the loop

The city aims for only 15 percent of trips to the new site to arrive by personal motor vehicle.
(Images: PDC)

In addition, the bike lanes on Broadway and Lovejoy are due to be upgraded to protected bike lanes. And Johnson and Flanders streets might use diverters and speed bumps to become neighborhood greenways right through the north end of downtown.

And the city hopes to create a new “Exchange Place,” a large public plaza in front of Union Station, that’d anchor the north end of the Portland Transit Mall.

post office exchange place

All of this is a big piece of the vision for a “Green Loop” of low-stress bikeways circling the central city across the Broadway and Tilikum bridges. It also means (again, assuming that Portland property continues to be in such hot demand) that developers will play a big role in paying for street improvements in the area.

Developers will certainly have an incentive to make biking to the new property pleasant. The city’s goal is for these 13.4 acres to host 4 million square feet of new building in downtown but only 5,000 new daily auto trips — half the ratio for the rest of the central city.

That’d mean only 15 percent of trips to the site would come from people driving alone. Elsewhere in the central city, about 30 percent of trips come in that way.

If the site misses that target, auto parking on the site is likely to be either hopelessly inadequate or deal-killingly expensive to build.

This news makes an interesting prelude to our upcoming Northwest Portland Week. Stay tuned.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 –

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