Lents Town Center began as the Town of Lent, founded in 1892 by the pioneering Lent family that began their residency in the area as farmers and over the years became leaders in business, industry and education. Southeast 92nd Avenue served as the Main Street for the township, with the heart of the township centered on the farm-to-market route of Foster Road.
Because of its location en route to Portland, access to the Springwater steam rail line and the Cazadaro electric rail line at Lents Junction, the township grew quickly and became a busting center of commerce, hosting butcher shops, dry goods stores, pharmacies, furniture makers, legal offices and a movie theater. It was annexed into the city of Portland in 1912, and continued to be a center of commerce through the years
In the early 1970s, construction of the Interstate 205 Freeway led to the demolition of a large portion of the historic housing. With the addition of shopping malls and change in consumer habits that favored the automobile, commerce in the Lents Town Center area began to decline. While most of the historic bones of the township remain, some of the original retail and office buildings have been demolished or converted to other uses.
In 1998, the Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Area was formed by the City of Portland and Portland Development Commission with the primary goal of revitalizing Lents Town Center, bolstering business and industry in the area, and reviving the housing stock for old and new residents that remembered past vitality and recognized the potential of the area. Since the formation of the urban renewal area, new residential and office buildings have been constructed, property has been purchased to facilitate development, and a new Light Rail Line and four light rail stations have been constructed in the Lents Neighborhood, with one station serving Lents Town Center at its heart- Foster Road.
But, there’s still plenty of room for more business, plenty of parcels that await development and plenty of projects that are being planned and engineered and are near to breaking ground. This includes a 5 million dollar streetscape for Lents Town Center scheduled to be completed in 2013.