The two commercial buildings at MLK & Mason – home to a variety of businesses in their lifetime, primarily ones serving the black community in recent years – have been demolished, to make room for a new building. What’s coming to MLK & Mason is a 36-unit, mixed-use building – apartments atop, retail/commercial on the ground floor. The buildings just demolished were built in 1950.
Rachel Gilmer of the Portland African American Leadership Forum (PAALF) writes:
We invite you to attend a press conference PAALF will be holding in response to the proposed Majestic Realty Development. At the conference, PAALF will discuss next steps for the advancement of a community-based campaign and demands moving forward. PAALF will also announce the launch of a community visioning and planning session which will bring together neighbors and those who have been displaced from their historic community to develop a plan for the site.
Please see the press release below for additional details.
Date: Monday, February 3
Location: The site of the proposed development, NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and NE Alberta Street
We hope that you will be able to join us! Please forward this to others who may be interested in supporting this effort.
PAALF Staff and Leadership
January 27, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Portland African American Leadership Forum Seeks Community-Based Solutions in Response to Proposed Majestic Realty Development
The Portland African American Leadership Forum (PAALF) will hold a press conference on Monday, February 3 at 12pm. The purpose is to address the proposed Majestic Realty development of Trader Joe’s and the ongoing gentrification of North and Northeast Portland. PAALF will discuss next steps for the advancement of a community-based campaign and demands moving forward. PAALF will also announce the launch of a community visioning and planning session which will bring together neighbors and those who have been displaced from their historic community to develop a plan for the site. The press conference will be held on the site of the proposed development, NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and NE Alberta Street.
PAALF recently sent an open letter to Mayor Hales and Portland Development Commission Director Patrick Quinton, regarding the Majestic Realty development decision on NE MLK and Alberta. This decision provided the out-of-state realtor a 2.4 million dollar subsidy to build a Trader Joe’s in the heart of Portland’s historic Black community; one of the fastest gentrifying zip codes in the country. The decision came on the tail of a commitment made by Hales and Quinton to include PAALF in any major development decisions in N/NE Portland. PAALF’s letter called for several demands to ensure community stabilization in the wake of investment, including affordable housing on site, an enforceable community-controlled community benefits agreement and public transparency of TIF dollars spent in the Interstate Corridor Urban Renewal Area.
Despite claims stating otherwise, it is clear that the decision to sell this land to Majestic Realty was a back-door, top down decision.
Last week in an interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Loud, Mayor Hales stated support for affordable housing on the property. While no firm commitment was made, Hales’ comments solidify that there is still room to strongly influence the site’s outcomes.
This visioning session will model to the City what community-controlled development can and will look like. PAALF will use this community-based plan as we continue to advocate for a just outcome on this property that reflects the needs and desires of African Americans and other existing residents.
Please direct questions to Rachel Gilmer - Rachel@aalfnw.org.
“There’s a way in which the process of memorialization is sometimes the first step in collective forgetting,” says Leigh Reiford, a professor at Berkeley and co-editor of the anthology “The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory.” “We name our monuments, we name our streets, and they’re meant to do the work of memory for us.”
Another, Jonathan Tilove, put it even more succinctly: “To name any street for King is to invite an accounting of how the streets makes good on King’s promise or mocks it.”
Meanwhile, “Retailers turn MLK Day into a shopping bonanza” – as if more proof is ever needed that capitalism is a fatal illness to any society that contracts it.
A on-going collection of photos of MLK Boulevards around the country: MLK BLVD @ wordpress.
“The Portland African American Leadership Forum (PAALF) is writing in response to the proposed development in partnership with Majestic Realty. Our opposition is rooted in the well-documented and ongoing attempt to profit from development in inner N/NE Portland at the expense of Black and low-income individuals. Rather than invest in proven methods to stop displacement and empower the African American community, the Portland Development Commission (PDC) and City of Portland have consistently supported projects that have displaced existing residents and attracted wealthier ones in their place.
In October, PAALF met with city officials including, Mayor Hales, Patrick Quinton and John Jackley to discuss the disparate impact gentrification has had on our community’s wellbeing and viability. Both Mayor Hales and Patrick Quinton expressed a commitment to solving the issues related to gentrification and to finding community based-solutions to stabilize Black residents. This decision indicates the opposite and reflects the City’s overall track record of implementing policies that serve to uproot, displace and disempower our most vulnerable community members.”
Read the rest of the letter and sign the petition here.