While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the inital timeline,
Metro has prioritized the continuation of this project.
Metro Council and MERC Commission held a joint session
to discuss setting priorities for the study
December 2019 / January 2020
Site, venue and market assessment
Stakeholder engagement: Values and history
February / March 2020
Stakeholder engagement: Scenarios
Up to 12 futures scenarios developed, stakeholder engagement of scenarios
October 2020 to January 2021
Narrow to five future scenarios, analyze and provide further details
Virtual open house, five scenarios reviewed
January / February 2021
Finalized five scenarios presented to Metro Council
At the request of Metro Council, the Portland Expo Center development opportunity study will assess the value and opportunities for the greatest public benefit of the 53-acre property and venue.
The desired outcome of the study is the development of a framework that outlines the potential futures of Expo and the impacts of each option.
The center also has significant capital needs and no identified funding source to meet these needs over time. This study will identify development options that could complement, support or replace the current event center's operations.
Throughout the process, Metro will engage with stakeholders including communities with historic ties and business interests.
Each future scenario will be evaluated based on Metro’s six desired outcomes of vibrant communities, economic competitiveness and prosperity; safe and reliable transportation; climate change; clean air, clean water, and healthy ecosystems and equity – as well as community driven values.
While the COVID-19 pandemic brought uncertainty and disruption to the study, Metro has prioritized the continuation of this project. Since early spring, Metro staff have worked to adapt event spaces like the Expo Center to both serve in the region’s COVID response and also meet changing client needs. The goal of this project has not changed. It remains a collaborative process focused on developing potential futures for the Expo Center.
Portland’s gathering place
The Portland Expo Center attracts nearly 500,000 visitors to 100+ public tradeshows and community events like home and garden, automotive, RV, antique, outdoor shows and concerts, generating $54 million in economic impact. The center has 330,000 square feet of exhibit space in five exhibit halls on the 53-acre campus. The Portland Expo Center is committed to sustainability with the largest stormwater green wall in the country, treating 10,000+ cubic feet of runoff. The Hall D and E roof restoration project saved tons of material from being sent to a landfill and replacing parking lot lighting with LEDs reduced electricity usage significantly.
The Portland Expo Center has a million dollar annual debt service payment which will be retired and paid in full by 2025.
Historical and cultural significance
The Expo Center has a diverse and important history including cultural significance to the African American and Japanese American communities in connection with the Vanport Floods and WWII Internment at the Portland Assembly Center. Metro and the Portland Expo Center recognize the past events and injustices that took place on or near the Portland Expo Center. Expo works with Vanport Mosaic and the Nikkei Legacy Center to ensure these occurrences are never forgotten. Each year, commemorations are held on Memorial Day weekend for the African American and Japanese communities impacted by these events.
How will the project engage stakeholders?
With a guiding principle of transparency, stakeholder feedback will be compiled and shared with all who engage in the process.
Throughout the process, project consultants will engage with specific stakeholders with a historic tie to the site, such as the African American and Japanese American communities, as well as Expo clients and business stakeholders. Additionally, Metro staff will be meeting with members of the Indigenous community about the principles and priorities that are important in considering future scenarios for Expo.
Opportunities for input and further prioritization will continue during the development of up to 12 future scenarios. Stakeholder input will help narrow down the list to a shorter list five potential options. This prioritized set of five future options will get further defined and evaluated for feasibility, and the broader public will be asked to weigh in on them at a future open house (planned for January 2021) before the final selection of development scenarios are presented to Metro Council in January/February 2021.
Each future scenario will be evaluated based on Metro’s six desired outcomes of vibrant communities: economic competitiveness and prosperity; safe and reliable transportation; climate change; clean air, clean water; and healthy ecosystems and equity – as well as community driven values.
What we heard
In January 2020, Metro and consultant Cascadia Partners convened an Expo Development Opportunity Study history and values workshop, as well as a business and client workshop. At this workshop, stakeholders participated in a group exercise that clustered collective ideas for guiding principles into common themes. As a group, participants moved the common themes into draft guiding principles. The summary document below illustrates the five principles that arose from the values workshop including:
- Honor, respect and preserve cultural and historical significance
- Require purposeful inclusion of disenfranchised and dispossessed
- Maximize community benefit and engagement for future generations
- Ongoing engagement and transparency
- Drive inclusive economic and cultural prosperity.
Core central vision
A core central vision for the Expo Center emerged as well to include:
- Honor historical and cultural legacy
- Create wealth building opportunities for Black, Black American, Japanese, Japanese American, Indigenous communities and other disenfranchised communities of color
- Ensure financial sustainability
- Maximize economic prosperity.
Key stakeholder input has built the framework for how to evaluate different development options: complement, support or replace the current event center.