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How wonderful! The careful restoration of a rare and beautiful old building for the purpose of housing an educational institution--it's great to hear of something in the world of local architecture and development that is so unarguably positive.

As to why the Old Town area in general can seem so lifeless--that's due to a broad combination of reasons, don't you think? That it abuts Portland's skid road and has more than its fair share of "street people" continues to make it a forbidding place to some. Also, the area's bars and restaurants don't seem to generate the kind of appeal they once did, when Old Town was first reborn as part of Portland's night life scene 30 or so years ago. I'm not sure if that's because so many other areas of Portland now compete with it, or if the quality of the places in Old Town has deteriorated. (Jazz de Opus having given way to a strip club wasn't exactly a step in the right direction, for instance.) Beyond that, it just seems like most areas of downtown Portland are pretty quiet most of the time (a few exceptions being Pioneer Courthouse Square, the transit mall around rush hour, the public library block during the day, and the area right around Berbati's at night.)

Having students in Old Town should help to increase foot traffic and benefit the retail businesses in the area, I'd think.

Steve Szigethy

Old Town Portland shares characteristics with Pioneer Square in Seattle and Gastown in Vancouver, BC: beautiful 19th Century architecture, some tourist spots, but also a homeless issue and in some cases, drugs. I suppose the homeless missions and drug treatment centers (both necessary, worthy causes) started locating here in the 60's when the buildings were truly run down and sold for pennies. What a difficult, sensitive issue! How do we capitalize on these historic urban spaces (a rarity in the Northwest) and still have options for those who are less fortunate? I wish I knew the answer.

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