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PCC asks Cully residents for input on future plans for Portland Metro Center

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Portland Metro staff plan future of center.

Portland Metro Center staff plan future of the facility.

If you live in the Cully and Concordia neighborhoods, don’t assume that a knock on your front door is from someone trying to sell magazine subscriptions. This fall, Portland Community College will be canvassing the area to gather input on what services community residents would like to see as part of PCC’s redevelopment plans for its Portland Metropolitan Workforce Training Center.

A canvassing drive is being held in the Cully and Concordia neighborhoods to solicit input about PCC's plans to redevelop Metro Center.

A canvassing drive is being held in the Cully and Concordia neighborhoods to solicit input about PCC’s plans to redevelop the Portland Metro Center.

The center, located at Northeast 42nd Avenue and Killingsworth Street, offers the career training and skills development required for competitive family-wage jobs. A variety of services are offered, including workshops, one-on-one advising, weekly job fairs and hiring events.

As part of its outreach efforts, PCC is working with Living Cully, a partnership of nonprofit groups committed to supporting the community by building economic, social and environmental opportunities. More specifically, the goals of Living Cully are to:

  • Create development without displacement;
  • Build employment and income opportunities for residents and businesses;
  • Conduct community engagement through collective action, cultural expression and clear avenues for communication;
  • Expand safe, high-quality affordable housing;
  • Increase green infrastructure and environmental education.

“The redevelopment of (the Portland) Metro Center is a catalytic project for the Cully and Concordia neighborhoods,” said Cameron Herrington, Living Cully’s anti-displacement program manager. “We are proud to be partnering with PCC to gather community members’ visions and priorities not only for the PCC property, but for the future of the neighborhood.”

With funding from a 2017 bond measure, Portland Metro’s existing two, single-story buildings will be demolished and replaced with a new, multilevel facility that will have classrooms, offices and meeting space for both college staff and service partners, such as the Oregon Department of Human Services.

Rebecca Ocken, PCC’s project manager for the center, explained that the new structure is “one of the larger projects specifically identified in the bond program and meets the college goal of improving our workforce training centers.”

PCC is conducting canvassing in the Cully and Concordia neighborhoods to solicit input about PCC plans for the redevelopment of Metro Center.

The canvassing drive will cover approximately 75 to 100 households.

She said the current facilities make it difficult to meet PCC’s workforce development needs and provide the wrap-around services required to integrate with the existing programming.

“The existing center building was a former grocery store built in 1957, and the second building was a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall built in 1989,” she added. “Both buildings are window-free and there is about $2 million in deferred maintenance.”

Pam Hester, regional director for PCC Workforce Development, outlined the many services and resources the department is planning for the new building.

“The center will be a centralized hub that connects community members and employers to PCC,” she said. “We’ll offer a host of career exploration and coaching services, on-ramp programs to prepare potential students for success, on-site education, and employment services.

“Additionally, we’ll collaborate closely with our on-site community partners to ensure people have all of the wrap-around supports, resources, and encouragement they need to succeed,” she added. “Working together in this innovative space, we’ll help people transform their lives and their communities.”

PCC is also working towards introducing affordable housing on the property in partnership with Home Forward.

Portland Metro Center canvassing leaflets in several languages.

Portland Metro Center canvassing leaflets in several languages.

The canvassing drive will cover approximately 75 to 100 households from Lombard Boulevard to Prescott Street, from 33rd to 55th avenues. Paper surveys and informational materials will be available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Vietnamese, Russian and Somali.

PCC is also planning to hold 10 to 12 focus groups of six to 10 people each. The groups will draw from Living Cully’s network of nonprofits and community groups, including high school and college-age youth, the Cully Housing Action Team, as well as Latino, Native American, African American, and African immigrant organizations. In addition, invites will be forwarded to Cully and Concordia neighborhood associations, mobile home park residents, Habitat for Humanity, small-business owners and workers at Cully-based employers.

In the meantime, Living Cully will be reaching out at community events such as cultural activities, “movies in the park,” and farmers markets, as well as making presentations to neighborhood associations, nonprofits’ board of directors, and business associations.

Finally, an online survey is being conducted in partnership with Living Cully to gather ideas for services and resources that could support the community. The survey, available in English and Spanish until Oct. 1, is anonymous and responses are pooled with all other responses and not reported individually.

These efforts are underway and will continue through mid-October. A large open forum will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Portland Metro Center’s Building 2 for the community to learn about the outreach results. Further outreach will continue throughout 2020 to inform the design process.