The South Waterfront Neighborhood in Portland used to be an industrial area for most of it’s civilized life, but in 2004 construction began for a whole new complex of housing, medical buildings, shops and restaurants that would be connected to OHSU by aerial tram. It was so hot, the units were flying off the market almost before they could be listed…I sold several during those years, showed even more. They were going for up to a million- I sold a 2 bedroom back in 2007 for just under a million. It seemed like it just wouldn’t stop. Everyone was excited and the building continued even after the crash. Portland seemed to be one of the last cities to be affected by the downturn in prices, we thought maybe we were immune. By 2010, 9 buildings had been completed, but suddenly housing prices began tumbling, things slowed their pace. People wondered if the area was going to slowly die. So much had been done, a transformation had begun, but would it continue.
As the market got better, and housing prices picked up and then went through the sky, work on the South Waterfront Neighborhood area began again. The street car came in, parks were added….the area had been transformed into an awesome area with super high condos, the aerial tram to OHSU, with a bike pedestrian path that went along the river, the street car came in and slowly restaurants and shops began to open on main levels of the high rises.
Then Tilikim Crossing opened, and the plans just keep coming. There are amazing plans for the near future, like creating a beach and swim area. They have improved the Willamette Greenway with a continuous trail from John’s Landing all the way along the Willamette River and through the city of Portland- which you can also take across the Steel Bridge and head back south across the East Side Esplanade-and come back to West Portland on the Hawthorne Bridge! What an awesome trail! I’ve ridden it many times- but have always had to get off and take to the streets when I come to this new urban renewal area! Now the trail will be continued. Not only that, you can take a detour up the hill on the aerial tram!
Elizabeth Caruthers Park is the neighborhood’s park, it is a greenspace with water features, a kinetic sculpture, pathways and benches, all oriented to
the river. You can also watch the glittering tram that goes above you in the sky, from the waterfront, all the way up to Marquam Hill, shuttling patients, doctors and other visitors up to the OHSU complex. The South Waterfront Neighborhood is the largest and most expensive redevelopment that Portland has ever undertaken. They have
changed an abandoned industrial site into a beautiful, densely populated new neighborhood that will continue to expand and grow! The plans for redevelopment include 120-acres until finally 20 high-rise buildings have been built. It will include labs and offices for OHSU. The Tram is supposed to connect these two parts of the OHSU complex so that staff and students can easily get up and down the hill. Someday they hope to build a medical school campus right along the Willamette River!
The next phase of this project plans to construct a five-block-long mix of lawn, park and plaza areas along the Willamette River between Southwest Gibbs Street and Lane Street. Below the green space, which has separate paths for bikes and pedestrians, a 25,000-square-foot gravel beach provides improved fish habitat. The first phase of the Greenway was opened in early 2015 and includes trails and habitat view areas. The next phase includes a pier and a kayak boat launch. By 2023, they hope to build a plaza and two parks, as well as a recreational dock with access to the Willamette. One of these parks will stretch under the Ross Island Bridge, and amenities could include a basketball court or table tennis.
There are also other plans in the mix. The Zidell family, who owns 33-acre just south of the city, wants to turn it into a mixed use development with 2600 residential units, 1.5 million SF of office space, a hotel, retail space and parks. They own the land that is under the Ross Island Bridge that is currently the Zidell Barge business.
Here are 3 high-rise condo buildings in South Waterfront Neighborhood-
-The two Meriwether towers have 245-units in double tower – 21 and 23 stories tall built in 2006.
-The John Ross is 325-foot tall. It is a LEED certified building.
-The Atwater Place is a 22-story, rectangular tower with 212 condos.
A little more on The Tilikum Crossing, which is the largest car-free bridge in the United States- It carries the Portland Streetcar, the MAX Orange Line, TriMet buses, cyclists and pedestrians. Tilikum Crossing makes it easier for residents to get to destinations like Portland State University, OHSU, the Central Eastside District and OMSI. It also hooks pedestrians to Portland Tram, the Gibbs Street Pedestrian Bridge, the Eastside Esplanade and over 319 miles of bikeways throughout the city.
South Waterfront Neighborhood area has become the first urban neighborhood in the United States to achieve Salmon-Safe certification. Salmon-Safe’s certification of South Waterfront Neighborhood means that the area exceeds state and federal regulatory commitments to protect the Willamette River and its urban tributaries. Salmon-Safe is a Portland-based nonprofit certification organization. The designation commits the South Waterfront Neighborhood to sustain its environmental stewardship over time, including the district-wide elimination of pesticides that are harmful to
salmon and other aquatic life. People like to ride bikes along the waterfront. They even do bike rentals at the bottom of the tram.
Elizabeth Caruthers Park is a 2.14-acre park that has an open lawn area for performances, gardens, boardwalks, a water feature, bike racks, public art and streetscape improvements. It also includes bocce court, Plaza, splash pad, and statue or public art. It also has a landscape with a stormwater retention system. A stone path opens to an asphalt pathway along the river which is about 300 yards long.
March Wellness and fitness center is on the first two floors of the CHH building, and it is open to OHSU staff and the public. It is not only a gym but offers foreign languages classes, nutrition cooking classes, and etc. It also includes a gymnasium, a four-lane lap pool, cardio and weight-training areas, and a day spa. Their goal is to address many dimensions of wellness – physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, financial, social and creative.
The Willamette Greenway Trail goes all the way from Willamette Park in John’s Landing, north along the river, past the South Waterfront, past River Place, Past the fountain at McCall Park and on past the condos that are build all the way through the NW part of the city! You can connect to the Springwater Trail or the Esplanade that are on the east side of the river by going over any of the bridges or the Tilikum Crossing! For an outdoor person like me, who lives to ride my bike and loves the river, Portland is providing wonderful access to the things I love to do! And it is attracting people from all over who want this quality of life!