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Gresham, Ore., develops transit-friendly neighborhood.

For years, Portland, Ore., had been the destination for people living in the suburb city of Gresham.

But now the table is turning for Oregon's fourth largest city as Gresham nears completion of the Gresham Civic Neighborhood, a transit-oriented, mixed-use development that is the largest planned community in the state.

Ed Gallagher, the city's community and economic development planner, said the idea for a large-scale development on a 130-acre site near the center of the city had been brewing since the 1980s.

Ideas for a regional mall, multi-screen theater and other commercial uses had been pondered by the city until a light rail line was built between Portland and Gresham in the 1990s.

The city has used the light rail system in conjunction with transit oriented tax credits and other financing tools to attract commercial and residential developers to the project. Now, with most of the property developed, Gallagher said the city is planning for the final build-out of the few remaining parcels.

Of key interest, Gallagher said, is making Gresham a destination on the light rail line. Much of that has been accomplished, he said, by hosting events such as an annual jazz festival and by attracting first-class dining and shopping establishments to the Civic Neighborhood.

Another key factor in drawing Portlanders to Gresham, he said, is maintaining the flavor of the city's historic district, which is in walking distance of one of the light rail stations.

"When we began the development phase for the Civic Neighborhood, we made a point not to drain businesses from our historic downtown district," said Gallagher. "Instead we sought more national companies that had not been to Gresham, along with a mix of local entrepreneurs."
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Author:Davis, Lance
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 18, 2005
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