FOR THE PAST DECADE, THE PEARL DISTRICT IN DOWNTOWN Portland, Ore., has been steadily redeveloped from an abandoned rail yard to a vibrant upscale urban community of mixed-use buildings and parks. The most ambitious among the developers is Portland-based Hoyt Street Properties (HSP), with several parcels completed, in development, and on the boards. But as its gentrification effort reached the halfway point, HSP's section remained nameless.

To engage residents and entice prospects to upcoming condos and apartment rentals, the developer devised a naming contest. Using a direct mail flyer with a perforated, postage-paid reply postcard and an online voting option, HSP offered five potential neighborhood names and a write-in space. A total of 370 people responded (about one-third of them online), selecting the name Hoyt Yards out of respect for the area's rail yard roots. In addition, HSP received 46 write-in votes, with suggestions ranging from The Cultured Pearl to NoHo (short for North of Hoyt). The winning moniker was revealed at a neighborhood party.

BANDING TOGETHER: Residents of Portland, Ore.'s redeveloped Pearl District named their neighborhood Hoyt Yards, a reference to the area's railroad legacy.
BANDING TOGETHER: Residents of Portland, Ore.'s redeveloped Pearl District named their neighborhood Hoyt Yards, a reference to the area's railroad legacy.

“Allowing residents to name their neighborhood differentiated us from a marketing and visibility standpoint,” says Darrel Buttice, a partner with strategic marketing firm Conkling Fiskum & McCormick. “It was a chance for them to bond with the neighborhood and their neighbors.”

HSP's $600 million project is 10 years into the development process and another decade from completion, with a half-dozen buildings sold or leased and its newest condo project 60 percent under contract in presales.

Campaign Details Program: Hoyt Yards direct mail (naming campaign); Developer: Hoyt Street Properties, Portland, Ore.; Cost: approximately $2,700 (direct mail); $15,000 (event); Ad agency: Conkling Fiskum & McCormick, Portland

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Portland, OR.