While the COVID-19 pandemic and regional disasters disrupted the initial 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 / February 2020
Site, venue and market assessment.
Stakeholder engagement began with a values and history workshop with clients and business partners and the African American and Japanese American communities.
February 2020 and ongoing
Stakeholder engagement to develop scenarios and guiding principles. With hire of Metro's tribal affairs liaison, government-to-government
outreach to Tribes and engagement with urban Indigenous community began.
Up to 12 futures scenarios developed; stakeholder engagement of scenarios.
Virtual urban Indigenous community values and history workshop and engagement to refine guiding principles.
Virtual all-communities conversation "open houses" to review potential future scenarios. All communities and stakeholders provide feedback through customized app.
April to June 2021
Narrow to five future scenarios, analyze and provide further details.
Finalize five scenarios; present 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 decision framework that outlines the potential futures of Expo and the impacts of each option.
The center 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. Any potential future for Expo needs to be financially sustainable. Since this study began, COVID-19 has significantly added to the centers financial challenges.
Throughout the process, Metro will engage with key stakeholders and partners including communities and partners with historic and cultural ties and business interests.
Each future scenario will be evaluated based on Metro’s values and priorities informed by and in alignment with community-driven values and guiding principles.
While the COVID-19 pandemic brought uncertainty and disruption, 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-19 response and also meet changing client needs. The goal of this project has not changed, and remains a collaborative process focused on assessing potential futures for the Expo Center.
Portland’s gathering place
The Portland Expo Center attracts nearly 500,000 visitors to 100+ public trade shows 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.
Historical and cultural significance
Many communities in the greater Portland area and our region have unique and important historical and cultural ties to the Expo Center and the land it’s built upon. The Vanport Floods and WWII Internment at the Portland Assembly Center have had lasting impacts on the African American, Indigenous and Japanese American communities. 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.
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, Metro and the project consultants will engage with key stakeholders with historic and cultural ties to the site, such as the African American, Indigenous and Japanese American communities, as well as Expo clients and business stakeholders in order to refine the project guiding principles. (Iterative guiding principles documents, below.)
Opportunities for input and further prioritization will continue during the development of up to 12 future scenarios. Stakeholder input will help refine the scenarios to a prioritized list of up to 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.
Key stakeholder input will help build the framework for how to evaluate different scenario options: complement, support or replace the current event center.
What we are hearing
Metro and consultant Cascadia Partners have convened an Expo Development Opportunity Study history and values workshop, a business and client workshops, and continues to engage with Tribes, jurisdictional partners, key stakeholders, and communities with a connection to the site. At workshops, stakeholders participated in group exercises 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 a collation of what we have heard in our outreach to and engage with communities throughout the process.
- Honor, respect and preserve cultural and historical significance
- Require purposeful inclusion of disenfranchised, displaced and dispossessed
- Maximize community benefit and engagement for future generations
- Ongoing engagement and transparency
- Drive inclusive economic and cultural prosperity.
Note: We will expand and refine these principles after the urban Indigenous engagements, which were rescheduled to honor a community leader as well as impacts of the weather-related power and internet outages.
Core central vision
A core central vision for the Expo Center's potential futures emerged as well to include:
- Honor historical and cultural legacy
- Create wealth building opportunities for Black, Black American, Japanese, Japanese American, Tribes, Indigenous communities and other disenfranchised communities of color
- Ensure financial sustainability
- Maximize economic prosperity.
Note: Ongoing refinement with community engagements
Key stakeholder input has built the framework for how to evaluate different development options: complement, support or replace the current event center.