The price of urban renewal

The Portland Development Commission issued a request for proposals from prospective land developers of the Montgomery blocks, which currently houses the Jasmine Tree Tiki Bar, Friday.

The Jasmine Tree, a Portland and PSU landmark, will either have to relocate or close business, because the PDC is focused on other uses of the property.

Kathryn Krygier, a PDC development manager, said the goal of the project is to provide the area with middle-income housing, which it currently lacks.

“It will be a good partner for the university development,” Krygier said “[The area] has a lot of opportunity.”

Krygier said the space that the Jasmine Tree currently occupies will be removed to make room for the development of a light-rail line that will run on Fifth and Sixth avenues beginning in 2007.

Jimmy Chan, bartender of the Jasmine Tree who has worked there for 23 years, said that they have a lease until the end of April but he has no idea what is going to happen after that.

“As far as we’re concerned, we have no idea what they’re going to do,” Chan said, “or when they’re going to kick us out.”

Genevieve Wareham, a junior at PSU, said she has been going to the Jasmine Tree for a year now and that she would prefer the bar stay there.

“It’s just sad because I like it,” she said.

Chan said that he believes that many people would be unhappy not having a place like the Jasmine Tree anywhere near downtown.

“Lots of students are going to be upset,” Chan said. “It’s sad to see it go. We’ve been here for 30 years.”

The area is of interest to the university but they will not look into buying or developing it, said Lindsey Desrochers, vice president of Finance and Administration. Instead the administration is looking for the PDC to work with them on providing some kind of housing for students, faculty and others associated with the university.

“I made a statement to the PDC to inform all people proposing that we are expecting someone with a broad vision and who will work toward the university goals,” Desrochers said.

Krygier said the PDC is trying to create a 24-hour neighborhood with this project, meaning that it would include housing as well as commercial property. She added that they are hoping to increase homeownership in the area with condos that would cost around $240 per square foot, compared to a Pearl District condo costing around $400 per square foot.

Krygier said the purpose behind this style of housing is not for students, but more for people who work within the university.

“Everything we’ve ever discussed was to help support those working for PSU,” she said. “The goal isn’t to provide student housing. The university handles that.”

Desrochers said that new housing would play well with the development of the new recreation center the university is currently investing in, with an expected completion date in 2009.

In order to develop the rec center, the university will ask the PDC to return the 42 percent of the PCAT center they currently own, Desrochers said.

The new building replacing the Jasmine Tree has been approved as a multi-use land site, which would include housing units, retail, office, academic and parking space.

“There will be retail on the ground floor, but the building will be primarily residential,” Krygier said, adding that they plan on including subterranean parking.

Proposals for the development of the property are due on March 31. The PDC will hold an open house this summer to announce the new developer.

Krygier said the PDC has not received any proposals yet, but that some people have downloaded proposal forms from the internet.

Some PDC documents estimate that the redevelopment of the Jasmine Tree block into mixed-income housing will take five years and cost $4 million.

Krygier said that she could not confirm that these numbers were exact, as the project developer has yet to be chosen, but that she is looking forward to the possibilities.

“It is an exciting location with a lot going on,” she said.