South Waterfront finally comes to life

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Monday, August 23, 2010

By Jessica Hoch

The ribbon-cutting of Elizabeth Caruthers Park last Thursday sent a strong signal that the idealized South Waterfront District isn’t completely lost to a stalled economy. Quite the contrary, it looks as though the neighbors are finally moving in, and so is business.


Webbabies_in_fountainScores of families, dogs and residents joined in on the official opening of the grassy park, an event complete with free gelato and Italian soda.  Muffled by the music of the jazz band was even a faint sound of progress, a drill pounding the pavement for a new dentist's office.  During the ceremony City of Portland Commissioner Nick Fish promised the future of South Waterfront was finally here.

Residents have long waited for the park to lose the fence and open to the public. It was promised years ago before the housing crisis in 2007 left brand-new condominiums such as the Atwater Place vacant and waiting to be auctioned off for fractions of the original asking prices.  Promised to be the next Pearl District, the new neighborhood was practically empty.

But the numbers are starting to look positive.  The Atwater Place is selling about a unit a week and is well over half full. Vacancies in the John Ross are almost down to single digits and the Mirabella is largely pre-sold and set to open August 31st.  The Ardea and Riva on the Park rental properties are 72% and 85% occupied respectively.

The long-delayed affordable housing unit, The Tamarack, will finally break ground in the fall to build a five-story building and 209 units, which will bring some diversity to the community.

Benjamin Silver is a resident in the Atwater Place. He moved to the district in December because he felt it offered so much more value for the price compared to the Pearl and other parts of Portland.

“When we moved in it was quiet, but we fell in love with the area and with the park now open, it is true what they say, build it and they will come,” said Silver.  “The day it opened there were children jumping in the fountain, and people biking and playing with their dogs.”

Like many residents, Silver would love to see a lot more retail, especially a grocery store.  So far a few eateries, doggy daycare, a bank and a grocery mart dot empty window fronts. 

“When you get a grocery store you know the neighborhood has finally arrived,” said Kathleen Mazzocco of Clear PR, who represents the Atwater. “It took the Pearl 10 years to get a grocery store and with a population of 1,500 we need a bit more, but we are happy with the growth.”

The growth looks like it should continue over the next couple of years as projects are added to the pipeline.  The neighborhood will open three children’s learning centers in the fall, including a day care at OHSU and a charter school.  The community garden is up to 80 plots. A government agency is planning to add 74,000 square feet to house the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit.  The 700-foot Gibbs Street pedestrian bridge passing over I-5, adjacent to the aerial tram, will connect Lair Hill to the South Waterfront and will begin construction this winter.

Access remains an issue. The streetcar runs through, but there isn’t a MAX line.  Some residents say they prefer the isolation since it keeps things a little more quiet than the bustle of other districts.  That could change if the proposed plans for a streetcar line to Lake Oswego through Moody Street gets more serious, but that is still years away.

For now though, signs of progress on the waterfront and the beautiful new park serve as effective distractions from the empty construction sites still waiting for the shovel.

Jessica Hoch is an online reporter for Oregon Business.

 

Comments   

 
EastPDXResident
0 #1 Waiting for the fence to come downEastPDXResident 2010-08-23 11:22:57
Residents of East Portland have been waiting 15 or 20 years for several parks "to lose the fence and open to the public" -- and we are STILL WAITING!
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Stuck in EP Limbo
0 #2 ...and waiting, and waiting, and waiting...Stuck in EP Limbo 2010-08-23 12:02:10
It's a sad and uncomfortable fact that when we ask our representatives WHY population-heav y East Portland has been overlooked for appropriate financing of basic improvements and upgrades, they can only respond with "why aren't those residents voting?"

Make your voices heard, EPDXers! Be the squeek that your elected officials will respond to!
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

The 5 highest revenue-generating parks in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, June 11, 2015
parksthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

In 2014, total revenue for camping and day use in Oregon State Parks was a little more than $17 million. That figure may even higher this year "because we've had exceptionally nice weather," Hughes says.


Read more...

Modern design defines new Portland indoor market

The Latest
Thursday, June 25, 2015
thumbSnøhetta JBPM exterior www mir noBY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

An international architecture firm known for its design of the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion in New York unveiled its plan this week for a modern indoor/outdoor food market at the foot of the Morrison Bridge in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Flattery with Numbers

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The false promise of economic impact statements.


Read more...

Stemming the tide of money in politics

Linda Baker
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
 jeff-lang-2012-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Jeff Lang and his wife Rae used to dole out campaign checks like candy.  “We were like alcoholics,” Lang says. ”We couldn’t just give a little.”


Read more...

Fixing Oregon’s broken roads

The Latest
Tuesday, June 09, 2015
RUCCostComparison rev4-30BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

The technology at the center of Oregon’s road usage fee reform.


Read more...

Best Foot Forward

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE

Whether you're stepping out to work or onto the track, Pacific Northwest shoe companies have you covered.


Read more...

Quake as metaphor

Linda Baker
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
071515-earthquakia-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Big One serves as an allegory for Portland, a city that earns plaudits for lifestyle and amenities but whose infrastructure is, literally, crumbling.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS