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There is a common set of design features found in buildings built for centuries and typically seen in most American cities celebrated for their architecture. Portland is one of these cities long famed for their iconic architecture and charming main streets.
Many of our Main Street Centers are at risk without good design tools to guide their future. We believe we need main street standards attached to the Main Street Overlay (M-Overlay) to create good infill with respect to the people, place and culture of these areas.


The City has stated in their DOZA Policy planning documents that  they "acknowledge the historic and community value of the places studied in the Analysis. The identified areas comprise Portland’s earliest building blocks that still define today’s neighborhoods. The buildings that make up these areas are a lasting testament to the physical characteristics that design overlay zone espouses: defining context, contributing to public realm, DOZA and designing for quality and resilience through generations of merchants, residents, and visitors. They embody the image of what makes Portland, Portland. These areas are indeed well-positioned for growth with access to services, shopping, and transit. Without demolition protection, the blocks that comprise these early buildings and their immediate surrounding blocks are in danger of being fully redeveloped without a nod to their character-giving features.”

View our Main Street Patterns at a glance in our Main Street Minute -

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Storefront at the base, separated by horizontal bands, topped with a cornice or articulated roofline (common throughout downtown and entire city, previous requirement in standards)



Storefront designs in commercial or mixed-use buildings typically include the following design patterns: 

  • Raised sills of at least 18” 

  • Large storefront display windows with divided pane clerestory windows above and at least 4” recessed depth from building face 

  • Regular rhythm of recessed entries 

  • Permanent awnings 

  • Articulated rooflines, often with subtle pattern/detail in the brick or formwork 

  • Pedestrian-oriented signage 

  • Building facade lighting (sign band, entry, building address)

Cover PDX Main St. Design Guidelines - 1


Sunnyside Neighborhood Association Presentation

Thursday, March 11, 7:30 -8:15 pm  |  Virtual Attendance at Monthly Meeting

Learn how the community developed Main Streets Design Guidelines can help support community-based planning, greater design literacy, and better density with sensitivity. Heather Flint Chatto, Director or PDX Main Streets and Owner of Forage Design will also share upcoming policy advocacy opportunities on new citywide design standards and guidelines (DOZA) as well as the Historic Resources Code Project. The PDX Main Streets Design Guidelines are adopted by eight neighborhood and business associations for 12 streets in SE Portland. A key resource is the "Vintage Buildings Study" which identifies a collection of streetcar-era main street centers across the city that lack any preservation tools and are vulnerable to being fragmented. Belmont, Hawthorne and other key areas in Sunnyside are among these. 

Nominate your favorites for our second a



Refound Spaces & Remade Places: Placemaking & Placekeeping through Adaptive Reuse 
Thursday, August 6, 5:30-8:30 pm  |  Architectural Heritage Center 

  • 2020 Main Street Design Awards

  • Speakers on Innovative Adaptive Reuse

  • Exhibit: Photography of Sellwood-Moreland Main Streets

Join PDX Main Streets for our 2020 Design Awards, speakers, photography exhibits, free food and beverages, and a chance to learn from design leaders and innovative thinkers.

Sponsors and partners include the Architectural Heritage Foundation, Portland Main Streets Design Initiative (PDX Main Streets), Forage Design and Habitate. 

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Sellwood-Moreland Main St. Design Guidelines Presentations

  • SMILE Land Committee Review of the Design Guidelines | Wednesday March 4, 6-8 pm, Location: SMILE Station 

  • SMILE Meeting Board Review |  Adoption Consideration - Wednesday, May 28, 2020, 7:30 pm Online Meeting

Sponsors and partners include the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League (SMILE), Sellwood Moreland Business Alliance, Portland Main Streets Design Initiative (PDX Main Streets), Qamar Architecture, and Forage Design. 




CITY MAKING: The He(ART) of It | Art + Music Show
Pattern, Place + Tools for Growing with Grace
Friday, November 1, 2019 5-9 pm | Floyd's Old Town Coffee Shop

Join us for a First Friday exhibit featuring Historic Hawthorne photography with new and old designs, live music from Bosso32, food and drinks. A benefit for the Portland Main Streets Design Initiative to help support our Hawthorne's Main Street Design Guidelines work and our Sustainability Scorecard Initiative. Suggested donation of $5-$20, however no one will be turned away.​

Hawthorne Boulevard Main Street Photography Exhibit

September-October 2019 |  Palio Coffee Shop

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Sellwood-Moreland Main St. Design Initiative

  • Design Walking Tour/Community Meeting 2 on Sellwood-Moreland Design, Development + Preservation | Thursday, July 25, 2019, 6:30-8:30 PM | SMILE Station

  • Workshop 1: Design, Development + Preservation in Sellwood-Moreland | Thursday, June 30, 2019, 6:00-8:30 PM | SMILE Station

Sponsors and partners include the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League (SMILE), Sellwood Moreland Business Alliance (SMBA), Portland Main Streets Design Initiative (PDX Main Streets), Qamar Architecture, and Forage Design. 




Sustaining Main Streets + Cultural Identity  | Thursday, April 11, 2019, 5-8 pm Architectural Heritage Center

Join us for a historic Hawthorne photography exhibit, speakers, Main St Design Awards, and launch party celebration as we scale up our past Division Design Initiative into a city-wide project under our new name as the Portland Main Streets Design Initiative (aka PDX Main Streets).  

Sponsors and partners include the Architectural Heritage Center, the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association (HBBA), Portland Main Streets Design Initiative (PDX Main Streets), Qamar Architecture, Habitate, and Forage Design. 

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Design for Affordability, Resiliency + Sustainability
Monday, April 8, 2019, 3-6 PM | New Buildings Institute, 623 SW Oak Street

Is the current building boom in Portland housing achieving long-lasting, sustainable, and affordable mixed-use housing that will be loved and preserved by today’s millennials and sustained by future generations? A provocative list of panelists will address strategies for making housing both more affordable and more resilient, and bust some myths about recent trends in housing design and development. Participants will be given an opportunity to participate in breakout groups to workshop topics that may contribute to affordability and resiliency including development of a sustainability scorecard.

Thank you to New Buildings Institute for hosting the workshop and to our event sponsors: PDX Main Street Design Initiative and Sustainable Southeast, Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association, and Forage Design + Planning.

View the Agenda | Speaker Bios

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Powell Community Visioning | Division Clinton Street Fair

Richmond & Creston-Kenilworth Team Up to Gather Community input on a Vision for Powell Boulevard! Saturday, July 27, 2019, 10 am-5pm, visit our booth at 26th and Clinton!


Hawthorne Street Fair Community Visioning

Join us in late August 2019 to see our photography exhibit and learn about the design and planning work we've been doing to identify goals and design priorities for Hawthorne and see our list of special buildings and key sites!

Partners include the Richmond Neighborhood Association, the Division Clinton Business Association, Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association (HBBA), Portland Main Streets Design Initiative (PDX Main Streets), and Creston-Kenilworth Neighborhood Association, and the Inner Powell Alliance (IPA)



Hawthorne Main St. Design Initiative

  • Hawthorne Walking Tour 2: Lower Hawthorne Design, Development + Preservation  | Saturday, February 30, 2019, 10 AM

  • Hawthorne Walking Tour 1: Upper Hawthorne Design, Development + Preservation | Saturday, February 23, 2019, 10 AM

  • Hawthorne Workshop 2: Visioning for Design, Development + Preservation | Thursday, January 24, 2019, 6:00-8:30 PM

  • Hawthorne Workshop 1: Visioning for Design, Development + Preservation |  Thursday, November 29, 2018, 6:00-8:30 PM

Sponsors and partners include the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League (SMILE), Sellwood Moreland Business Alliance (SMBA), Portland Main Streets Design Initiative (PDX Main Streets), Qamar Architecture, and Forage Design. 


Citizen Jane: Battle for the City
Friday, October 19, 2018, 7-10 PM | NW Cultural Center 

The urban Champion Jane Jacobs had a special relationship with the City of Portland over its evolution as a more diverse, mixed, walkable place. A frequent advisor to grass-roots activists in the city, Jacobs championed lively, diverse neighborhoods, and she championed citizen activism against powerful special interests, especially in her home town of New York. Come see this remarkable film on her life's work, followed by a panel discussion on Portland's current situation, and the still-urgent need for citizen activism. 


Panelists: Michael Mehaffey, Director, The Sustasis Institute, Heather Flint Chatto, Urban Planner & Cofounder, Division Design Initiative, Allan Classen, Editor of the NW Examiner, Midge Pierce, journalist for the SW Examiner, and Rick Michaelson, developer and preservationist.

Sponsors: Northwest Examiner, Sustasis Foundation, International Making Cities Livable and other partners


Design & Planning Tools to Manage Growth & Change

Tuesday, November 27, 2018, 6:30-9 PM | 237 NE Broadway, Suite 300

Land use & transportation neighborhood representatives, advocates, and interested community members are invited to join District Coalitions from across the city  to network with colleagues and bureau staff, learn, and collaborate with fellow community advocates around land use and transportation issues.  PDX Main Streets will host a Community Design station to help engage communities around tools for making context sensitive density as new infill is added and will share tools for greater community processes around local planning.

Sponsors and partners include Central Northeast Neighbors, SE Uplift Coalition, NPNS, and City of Portland Office of Community and Civic Life (OCCL)

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PARK(ing) DAY!


Transforming Division Parking Spaces into Parklets!
September 2015 | SE Division + 34th Avenue

PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform parking spots into temporary public parks. Always the third Friday in September. Learn more at This was our first time doing a PARK(ing) Day event and we were thrilled to host this event on Division.  

The Division Design Initiative partnered (DDI) with Architecture for Humanity (AFH) to take over three parking spaces near Roman Candle Bakery near 34th Avenue. We created an outdoor lounge with persian rugs, cafe tables, and shade structures; created an interactive art zone, and a Vision Tree with several of our “Envision Division” suggestion boxes, and created a traffic barrier handcrafted by AFH volunteers from old cupboard doors found at the rebuilding center. There were live musicians, a fouzball table, kids, dogs, ice cream and a dynamic community dialogue. AFH also has a program called “What do you see?” and it was a perfect vantage spot to visualize ideas for what could happen at the adjacent parking lot across the street someday…We gave away free food in support of many wonderful local Division businesses. It was a great event, where we were able to support many different community visions to coexist and foster community input about how we might advance more public gathering space on Division. 


View a fun video from the event courtesy of Julia Drachman, one of our volunteer partners with Architecture for Humanity.

Collaborators included the Richmond Neighborhood Association, Architecture for Humanity, Waterleaf Architects, and the Division Design Initiative.



Workshop: Advancing Adaptive, Green, Affordable Housing |

May 19, 2015 | Living Room Realty

Concerned about the lack of affordable housing being built, the increasing number of demolitions and lack of community involvement in major redevelopment of Division, we organized a half-day workshop with community leaders to understand barriers and opportunities to advance more environmentally responsible approaches to housing and explore opportunities to foster greater affordability and adaptive climate-responsive design. Facilitated by Heather Flint Chatto and Ralph DiNola from New Buildings Institute with presentations on zero energy multifamily case studies, and discussion groups with key stakeholders including affordable housing providers, developers, property owners, architects, planners, real estate professionals, neighborhood associations, business associations, city staff from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and Office of Housing.

Partners included the Richmond Neighborhood Association, the Division Clinton Business Association, Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association (HBBA), Division Design Initiative, and Living Room Realty.

View the Agenda & Goals

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Many more events hosted between 2014-2018 on our old website before we scaled up to a citywide organization as PDX Main Streets!
To learn more see 

Stay up to speed on all our events by following us on Instagram and Facebook @ilovepdxmainstreets!

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