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|Thursday, November 01, 2012|
BY LINDA BAKER
In our October issue, I wrote a story about several Willamette Valley cities and their efforts to retool their economies, post-recession. A few common themes emerged—namely, a shared focus on downtown revitalization and the creation of new value-added businesses, be it green nanotech in Albany or advanced food processing (artisan cider) in Salem.
That article left out another emerging development strategy. With few exceptions, the Willamette Valley cities are returning to their namesake but oft-ignored river as an urban amenity and eco-friendly development tool.
In Salem, for example, the city has been working to implement a long-standing community plan connecting three urban parks and more than twenty miles of trails via two pedestrian bridges over the Willamette. In 2009, the city completed the first bridge: the Union Street Railroad Bridge, linking West Salem’s Wallace Marine Park with downtown’s Riverfront Park.
The next step is to build the Minto Island Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge and multimodal trail. The conceptual design was completed this summer and the final design phase will be completed in April, 2013. So far, about $5,000,000 in urban renewal funds has been allocated for the project. To boost tourism and encourage more people to live/work/play downtown, "we are returning to the river," says John Wales, Salem's urban development director.
Portland, of course, is building its own bike/pedestrian/light rail bridge over the Willamette. As the Oregonian’s Anna Griffin reported in October, the city is also taking a dramatic new approach to riverfront development, to be codified in the Central City 2035 plan, a 20-year vision in progress for downtown Portland. The river "is not going to be something to just look at anymore," Michelle Rudd, a land-use lawyer with Stoel Rives and vice chair of Portland's Planning and Sustainability Commission, told Griffin. To engage residents, businesses and tourists with the city’s signature waterway, planners are considering moving riprap to create natural river banks and swimming beaches, and running water taxis to and from OMSI, the Rose Garden and Waterfront Park.
The efforts underway in Portland, Salem and Springfield reflect growing interest in mining the amenity value of Oregon's natural waterways. Famous for its open access approach to the Oregon coast, the state has treated many of its rivers as obstacles to be crossed, dumping grounds for pollutants--or, at best, a natural (cleaned up) waterway disconnected from the life of the city. Now cities such as Hood River, The Dalles, and Astoria are trying to close the gap between the metropolis and the river that runs through it, via natural restoration, beach access and mixed-use development.
Inevitably, these people-oriented river restoration efforts will come into conflict with longtime industrial uses of the river – and expanding urban beach access alongside working ports or harbors will continue to be an issue in many of Oregon's river cities.
Despite the challenges, the return to the river fits in with larger downtown revitalization and economic development trends, in which urban amenities such as greenspaces have become critical tools in recruiting and retaining companies and workers.
Albany developer David Johnson, for one, is banking on the appeal of the river to spur business. He recently completed the Wheelhouse, one of the city's first riverfront mixed-use office buildings, featuring a restaurant patio jutting out into the Willamette. “There are," says Johnson, "only so many natural waterways.”
Linda Baker is managing editor of Oregon Business
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR
Dress for Success Oregon promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools.
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Portland startup Green Endeavor strikes gold, inking a partnership with Underwriters Laboratories, an Illinois-based consulting and certification company with offices in 46 countries.
Monday, July 14, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER
Some people think Amazon’s winking eye logo is starting to look like a hoodwink.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
Tom Cox interviews Dr. Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen, Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
BY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.
Friday, August 15, 2014
In this week's poll, we asked readers: "Who should pay for the troubled Cover Oregon website?" Here are the results.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
BY MARY SPILDE | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Faced with the aftermath of the “great recession,” increasing concern about the environment and dwindling family wage jobs, we have some very important choices to make about our future.
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