5th and 6th avenues designated one of 10 Great Streets in America


Portland Transit Mall selected following revitalization and improvements as part of the MAX Green Line

The American Planning Association (APA) today announced that 5th and 6th avenues in downtown Portland is one of 10 Great Streets in America. The designation is the result of the revitalization and renovation made along the Portland Transit Mall as part of the MAX Green Line extension. The designation covers the 57 blocks along the Portland Transit Mall between NW Irving and SW Jackson Street.

The Portland Transit Mall designated one of 10 Great Streets in America

The Portland Transit Mall designated one of 10 Great Streets in America

In 2009, the Portland Mall Revitalization Project focused on renovating the Mall’s features into a more urban and dynamic environment. The project included adding light rail, updated bus stops, new shelter architecture, signage, seating, street furnishings and more public art, updating and transforming the Mall. The project improved the region’s transit core and enhanced vitality along the entire length of 5th and 6th avenues.

“Recognizing these special places highlights the role planning plays in adding value to communities,” said William Anderson, FAICP, president of APA. “Planners, working with others, help build better communities in a variety of settings, from urban to rural; the result – better neighborhoods, cities and regions. We applaud these efforts and congratulate this year’s designees.”

The idea for the original Portland Transit Mall was part of the City’s 1972 Downtown Plan to counter the loss of residents, investment and employment to the suburbs. The Plan was simple but firm in its vision – that downtown should not be re-configured to accommodate automobiles; parking should be restricted, transit should be enhanced and downtown should be a pleasant place to work, live, play, and visit. From this idea, a bold initiative emerged: conversion of the city’s prime commercial 5th and 6th avenues to a pedestrian and transit-oriented corridor. In 1994 the Mall was extended to Union Station and fully revitalized in 2009 as part of the Green Line.

The revitalized and renovated Portland Transit Mall as part of the MAX Green Line expansion

The revitalized and renovated Portland Transit Mall as part of the MAX Green Line expansion

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales noted that the revitalized Mall continues to make downtown a great destination.

“Investment in transportation infrastructure and transit builds places, strengthens communities and creates jobs,” Hales said. “This is especially evident in our Transit Mall, which has made Portland’s downtown a thriving urban core.”

TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane added that “This award is a reflection of our vision and commitment to our community. We were able to expand transit service while working with our partners to improve the heart of downtown.”

Brian McCarter, principal at ZGF, was one of the designers behind the Portland Mall Revitalization Project. “The project stands as a beacon for other communities eager to design a Great Street where everyone wants to be. It established a new benchmark in design, place-making and infrastructure for the 21st century and demonstrates the importance of integrating civic space, sustainable transportation and business vitality.”

The Mall has been improved with new storefronts and redevelopment, sustainable features and is managed by the Portland Mall Management, Inc. (PMMI) funded with both public and private funds.

PMMI President Mark New added that “Portland Mall Management, Inc. is thrilled that the Portland Mall has been recognized as one of the best urban spaces in America. The private and public sectors have worked collaboratively and creatively over the last 10 years to reconstruct, maintain and manage the Portland Mall as the focal point of Portland’s transit system and the heart of our vibrant downtown.”

More information on the Portland Transit Mall and the Revitalization Project is at:  http://issuu.com/zgfarchitectsllp/docs/portland_mall_revitalization?e=5145747/2668645