Northeast 42nd Avenue is a business district in Northeast Portland, Oregon. The district rests at the confluence of three different neighborhoods — Beaumont-Wilshire, Concordia and Cully. For years, the people of the area have been working to improve 42nd Avenue as a neighborhood-serving commercial district, and community efforts have begun to yield positive results. In October of 2011, the Portland Development Commission announced the launch of the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative, a program to boost the vitality of neighborhood business districts. 42nd Avenue was selected as a potential participant.
Our 42nd Avenue has been formed to help guide the district’s participation in this program. The group is constituted of members from all corners of the community, and is open to anyone who’d like to participate. Its objective is to foster a prosperous, equitable and community-serving commercial district on 42nd Avenue.
What is the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative?
In short, the NPI is a program through which property tax dollars derived from the area immediately surrounding the business district are reinvested in the district as determined by community members. By working together, community members and neighborhood businesses help to form a district that improves the lives of everyone involved. No taxes are raised as a result of this project — it does not cost residents or commercial property owners any more than they would normally pay in annual taxes.
Though this program does employ Tax Increment Financing (TIF), it does not issue bonds to pay for improvements — unlike TIF funds in many other circumstances. In this sense, there is no ‘bet’ being placed on increased future tax revenues. The downside to this for the community is that the funding for the NPI is fairly modest (estimated at $1,000,000 over several years). On the plus-side, we avoid the pressure of having to make decisions based on their direct impact on tax revenue (which can sometimes lead in directions other than those that the community desires). Additionally, the modest, un-bonded TIF means that deliberate development on the part of the community can aim to avoid the displacement of people of lesser financial means and can promote prosperity and improved life quality for all community members.
This short flier from the Portland Development Commission provides some more NPI details.