When I hear the name, Portland, I think of food trucks, Powell Books, and the Pearl District.
What I found was that the engine that makes Portland work is great rail transit and a cycling infrastructure.
You not only have the Streetcars, but the Tri-Met which brings workers to and from Downtown from the entire metro area.
Parks and plazas throughout Downtown and the Pearl district provide the best of the urban experience, as well as places for children (and adults) to play.
Downtown Portland is mostly office towers as opposed to residential, but great transit makes it work.
It's really elementary, my dear Watson!
Provide places for singles, couples, and families to live in an urban area, make it easy for them to get to and from their work and to places where they want to shop and dine, and provide places for them to gather and play in a safe environment, and you have the formula for sustained success.
Portland is only about three hours south of Seattle. You wouldn't think it would be that hard to get our Seattle city fathers to pay attention and learn from Portland's great example.