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Portland's Jade District Is a Planner's Nightmare (and Dream)

The Jade District on Portland's distant east side is a typical geography of wide streets and sprawl, but is also a relatively complete, self-contained community.
December 3, 2017, 7am PST | snewberg | @JoeUrbanist
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The area around 82nd and Division Street in Portland's east side is not what most people think of when they consider Portland. It has overly-wide streets, poor pedestrian connections, has plenty of automobile related uses, and is skipped by Portland's well-known light rail system. 

The alternate reality is the Jade District is a relatively complete community, with local businesses, markets, and neighborhood groups, particularly for the Chiinese community.

“In a funny way, this is exactly the kind of neighborhood we’re supposed to be encouraging – a place where everything you want exists within easy reach. If you’re an immigrant, you can find your market, restaurants that have the food you know, people who speak your language,” said Thuy Tu, a civil engineer and consultant who has been working on Jade District improvements. “Everything is here for those communities that have already been displaced from their own country.”

The challenges moving forward for the area include seemingly simple improvements like better sidewalks, crosswalks and community gardens. Improved bus service is also being pursued. With these things bring fear of gentrification, something the Chinese community in Portland is all too familiar with, having seen it happen in that city's Chinatown, of all places. 

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Published on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 in Oregon Public Broadcasting
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