A Landmark Vision
Standing in the heart of the Jade District is the “Discount Furniture Store”, a 10,000 square foot cement building that has been vacant and for sale for years. Located on the corner of 82nd and SE Division, it is a prime opportunity site, adjacent to PCC Southeast Campus and future bus rapid transit. A year of multilingual listening sessions in early 2013 prioritized redeveloping the site for the community, establishing an intergenerational, multicultural space that would provide a bulwark against gentrification. By the end of 2013, Metro Regional Government was able to leverage this landmark vision and Transit Oriented Development federal funds to purchase the building.
APANO swiftly negotiated a lease to operate the space that was named the Jade/APANO Multicultural Space or “JAMS”. JAMS has begun to fulfill the community vision for a safe and dynamic neighborhood center that provides protective factors against inequities, including the growing housing state of emergency, dangerous streets, toxic air, and a legacy of racial discrimination and invisibility.
For the past three years, with modest support from the City of Portland and local foundations, the building has become a de facto cultural center with over 15,000 people utilizing the space throughout 2016. JAMS has served as the staging hub for the Jade International Night Market with over 20,000 attendees, hosted dozens of meetings and inspired revitalization projects along 82nd Ave.
As of November 2016, APANO and the ROSE Community Development Corporation have joined together to form a partnership and have been awarded the rights to redevelop the site with affordable housing and a 5,000 square foot cultural center, public plaza and permanent home for APANO. With the housing funds secured, APANO is embarking on a once in a generation capital campaign to realize our communities landmark vision.
On the Edge of Portland
Communities of Color, and indigenous peoples have, for generations, developed centers of hope and prosperity. Often taking root on the margins of the city, communities have developed a resilience and capacity to thrive on the edge of Portland. Despite facing persistent discrimination and relentless displacement, our communities have consistently organized intergenerationally to care for the most vulnerable, empower our youth, and work collaboratively to make Oregon a better state.
82nd Avenue has long been considered the natural and psychological dividing line in the City of Portland and Multnomah County. To the West are neighborhoods where our communities first sought to thrive, and were steadily forced to relocate to the East after decades of disinvestment. Today, the area around 82nd and SE Division is one of the most racially diverse communities in Oregon. There is a vibrant immigrant small business economy, a mix of affordable housing, and decent transit, that is home to the highest concentrations of families with young children.
APANO has history in this place. Some of our members and staff grew up here and still live nearby. Many more visit regularly to shop or dine out. While it is home to significant populations of Asian and Pacific Islanders, it is deeply international and multicultural. The area, intersecting four neighborhoods, was branded the “Jade District” as part of the City’s Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative, encompassing over 300 businesses, Oregon’s fastest growing community college, and the most utilized bus stop within TriMet. Led by a multiracial steering committee with a core mission of development without displacement, the district is increasingly organized to win investments and build community ownership.
Serving Diverse Communities
Nearly 1 in 4 Oregonians, over 750,000 people and growing, identify as a person of color. There are more than 250,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders, who represent over 100 ethnic and linguistic groups. Oregon has a unique legacy of equitably serving all communities, marked more by racism, xenophobia, and a history of rapid displacement of diverse neighborhoods driven by public policy such as urban renewal. The area around 82nd and SE Division has long been a haven where displaced families, recent refugees and working class communities come together.
The redevelopment will be a visible landmark, anchoring a diverse community, and providing a space for healing, organizing, civic engagement and the arts. In our changing political climate of historic displacement, and unprecedented threats facing communities of color, this project comes at a critical time and will be a key part of that ecosystem for our communities. It will restore space to resolve intercultural conflict, celebrate kid’s birthdays, honor cultural traditions and New Year events, and address the long-term revitalization and development without displacement.
With the creation of the APANO Cultural Center, we will firmly root our communities in a place where we’ve long been so that we may rise and be a home for future generations.