The Jade District was recognized as a Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative in 2013. Prosper Portland (then the Portland Development Commission) identified the neighborhood around SE 82nd and Division Street as an area poised for development but also at risk of rapid gentrification and displacement of the residents and businesses that currently reside in the neighborhood.
As a program that operates in the neighborhood, we’re often asked: what are the boundaries of the Jade District? Our approach is to focus on the needs of folks that are connected to this area and are most impacted by changes and decisions made by the City of Portland. For much of our work in community development, we would never turn people looking for support or resources simply because they lived on the wrong side of a street or an imaginary boundary. We do tend to focus our efforts in terms of outreach, time and resources on the area bounded by 82nd Ave and I-205 on the west and east, and then SE Division and SE Powell on the north and south. This area is part of a census tract that is one of the most diverse places in the state of Oregon, and it reflects a history of underinvestment, including being parks deficient and surrounded by some of the most dangerous streets in the City of Portland.
Our work does include formal boundaries for some of our resources. As a Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative, our program is responsible for investing Tax Increment Financing dollars (TIF dollars) into the commercial area. We operate as a micro-urban renewal district, with a core feature that our Jade District Steering Committee, comprised of volunteers that live, work and own businesses in the neighborhood have control and ultimate authority over the investment of these funds. These dollars will total about $1 million dollars of investment into the commercial district over a period of approximately 10 years, and we are legally required to invest these funds into capital improvement projects within a specific boundary. You can find the map of that boundary here.
A good example of a TIF project that we invested in includes a storefront improvement for Van Hanh, a vegetarian restaurant run by nuns from a local Vietnamese temple serving vegetarians and buddhists in the area. We invested $10,000 into helping the business remodel, including new siding, paint, and a new sign. In exchange, the property owner agreed to stabilize the rent for that business.
For the rest of our projects, including the Jade District International Night Market, our partnership at the local community garden, and our organizing projects with residents and businesses, we do not adhere to these boundaries and instead focus on the investments that will help stabilize our community the most!