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$15 million overhaul may bring new life to downtown Portland plaza

Updated: May 10, 2023

By Edward D. Murphy, Portland Press Herald

Canal Plaza, a little-frequented open space girded by large office buildings in downtown Portland, is getting an upgrade designed to bring in retailers and ultimately more foot traffic.

Tim Soley, founder and president of East Brown Cow Management, said he’s been looking for a way to revitalize the complex at Middle and Union streets since his real estate firm bought it in 2009. His goal has been to make Canal Plaza “a place where people spend time, not just to work and not just to go to the restaurants and bars (elsewhere) later on.”

Soley estimates the entire project will cost about $15 million. He’s hired a Boston-based architect, Moshe Safdie, who has designed prominent buildings in the U.S., Middle East and Asia, to come up with a blueprint for the new space.The work is expected to be done by early 2024.

“We’re excited about this development from East Brown Cow,” Portland Downtown Executive Director Cary Tyson said. “Canal Plaza is a prime spot and the fact that Moshe Safdie is designing the space is thrilling.”


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