It’s great to have a plan, but without real money behind it, planning “visions” are just words and pictures in dusty reports.

One of those plans, known as the Bayside Vision, took an important step toward becoming a reality this week, and that’s good news for the whole city and region. In 1999, after an extensive public process, the city adopted a vision for Bayside with the goal of transforming Portland’s blighted, underutilized backyard into a neighborhood where homes, stores and offices share pedestrian-friendly streets with easy access to downtown.

Progress has been slowed by the recession, but development of affordable housing on Pearl Street, large-scale retail outlets like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, office buildings on Marginal Way and the start of a multiuse trail connecting to the city’s existing park system has created the outline of what the neighborhood could become.

The vision came into sharper focus this week with the announcement that Federated Cos., a national development company with offices in Boston and Miami, intends to buy an abandoned rail yard from the city to create a mixed-use development in the heart of Bayside. While the company has not presented a plan, other projects on its website indicate a track record of developments that precisely fit what Bayside currently lacks — high-end, multi-unit rental housing with stores and offices mixed in. People living, shopping and working would provide an around-the-clock presence that keeps the streets safer and turns vacant lots into a neighborhood.

In addition to selling this property, and getting it on the tax rolls, Portland officials have taken other steps to make this project fulfill the vision. The city is proposing to help finance a parking garage, which is something that the market would never do on its own. Structured parking will enable this development and could spark growth on other nearby lots.

The city is also putting strict time limits on when construction should begin. Bayside has been waiting too long to let a new owner hold on to this piece of property, waiting to sell when land values are higher. Federated will have to carry out its plans on a strict timetable, or sell the property back to the city for what it paid for it.

The sale brings the Bayside plan off the shelf, and after a decade of steady, but slow process, brings the vision into sharper focus.