Study will look at future of south riverfront
The Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has launched a study of the future of the land along and within the Willamette River south of the Ross Island Bridge down to the city boundary.
The so-called Willamette River/South Reach is one of three such stretches of the river. The Central Reach includes downtown and the inner east side of the city. The North Reach extends through the industrial and residential areas to the Willamette's confluence with the Columbia River.
The South Reach is unique because much of it is government-owned and set aside for preservation, recreation and other public uses. It also includes the Sellwood neighborhood and the land on both sides of much of Southwest Macadam Avenue and Southeast McLoughlin Boulevard.
"The South Reach stands out from other reaches of the Willamette River due to its mix of parks and open spaces, housing types adjacent to and on the river, and commercial uses — all within a short distance from downtown. The area provides numerous recreational opportunities for communities near and far," the bureau says on its website.
The largest owner is the city, with 267 acres — or 37 percent of the land mass — including Oaks Bottom, the only designated wildlife refuge in Portland, and a number of parks and other open spaces. The third-largest land owner is Metro, the elected regional government, with 46 acres along and adjacent to the Springwater Corridor. The state of Oregon is fourth with 16.4 acres, including houseboat moorages owned by the Division of State Lands, and holdings of the Oregon Department of Transportation. After that is TriMet, with 15.3 acres encompassing the track and surrounding right-of-way of the Willamette Shore Trolley.
The second-largest owner and largest private owner is Ross Island Sand & Gravel, with 133 acres, mostly on the southeastern part of Ross Island. The company is owned by Robert Pamplin Jr., who also owns the Portland Tribune and Community Newspapers Inc.
The riverfront area in Dunthorpe, a neighborhood in unincorporated Multnomah County, is included in the project because the city has an agreement to plan for the county in unincorporated areas.
According to the city's most recent Buildable Lands Inventory, 84 acres in the area are classified as vacant and developable, with another 51 acres determined to be underdeveloped. Only a small percentage of that property is within the existing North Macadam Urban Renewal Area, which includes the South Waterfront neighborhood.
The area has been the subject of multiple studies and several city plans over the years, including the 1987 Willamette Greenway Plan, the 2006 River Concept, and, most recently, the 2035 Comprehensive Plan that took effect in June. All stress the need to maintain and enhance the environmental qualities and recreational opportunities in the area, while also improving neighborhood livability, and river access and transportation.
The bureau held a "visioning workshop" at Llewellyn Elementary School in the Sellwood neighborhood to kick off the planning process last Saturday. The City Council is not expected to approve the final plan until 2020. To learn more, visit portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/685344.