An urban planning firm that has played a major role in Portland’s reputation as progressive transportation epicenter over the past two decades has just raised their profile by moving into a new downtown office building.
According to Portland Business Journal, Alta Planning and Design will move its 60 local employees into the penthouse floor of the One Main Place tower at the western landing of the Hawthorne Bridge. That means they’ll be neighbors with TriMet, who leased 95,000 square feet in the same building in 2022. Alta currently works out of a building in the Central Eastside Industrial District.
The PBJ reports that Alta was drawn to space — not just because rent is cheap downtown these days — but because, as principal Katie Mangle puts it, “It was important to walk the talk.” Alta wants to be part of the movement to revitalize downtown Portland after years of bad PR following the racial justice protests, the pandemic, and a wave of public drug use, crime and homelessness that have kept many people away.
In a post on Linkedin last month, Mangle said they chose the location because of its direct access to the Better Naito bikeway and high-quality transit connections. The location is also in PBOT’s “Zero Emission Delivery Zone” and just a block from the busiest Biketown station in the entire city (across the street from Salmon Street Springs). Mangle says those perks (not to mention the views and great coffee and restaurants nearby) are part of their strategy to lure more employees into the office.
The move also puts Alta even closer to the City of Portland building and their longtime collaborators at the Portland Bureau of Transportation. Alta has completed many projects for the city over the years. They published a report on Portland’s bicycle economy in 2006, developed the 2030 Bicycle Plan, worked with PBOT on the Central City in Motion plan, and have consulted on numerous bicycling planning projects in Portland and across America. You might even have met Mangle at a Bike Happy Hour this past summer. She and a crew from Alta were soliciting feedback from attendees on behalf of PBOT’s public plaza program.
Former Alta CEO Mia Birk was PBOT bicycle coordinator from 1993-1999. When she joined Alta in 1999, the firm had just one office and two employees. Now the company boasts nearly 200 employees in offices throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Alta’s new office will be up and running in mid-December.