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Learn about what is currently happening with the Central City 2035 project. Read meeting announcements and summaries, as well as other recent happenings.

Portland's Central Eastside: 2035

A look towards what the future may hold

“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”

— Niels Bohr

What will the Central Eastside look like in the year 2035? Will it continue to be a home to industrial services, warehousing and distribution companies? Will the district still contain businesses started three generations ago? Will it include manufacturers making products commonplace in our lives today as well as products we cannot yet imagine?

Answering these questions is difficult. Imagine predicting 35 years ago — when Oregon’s economy was dominated by resource industries and the car culture shaped our urban form — that within three decades our economy would be shaped by the silicon chip and entrepreneurs, and employees who prefer to commute to work by foot, bike and streetcar.

Although we can’t predict the future, we can chart a course to the future we hope to realize. This journey will require some bold decisions and diligence to implement new strategies that take us where we collectively want to go. It will also require patience and the ability to creatively respond to the inevitable threats, opportunities and mid-course corrections that will deliver us to our desired destination.

Relationship to Central City 2035

The SE Quadrant Plan is an element of the broader Central City 2035 (CC2035) project to update the 1988 Central City Plan. The CC2035 Concept Plan, adopted in 2012, includes goals, policies and an urban design direction that provide high level guidance for the entire Central City. The Concept Plan established a framework from which the more detailed quadrant plans are being developed.

The SE Quadrant Plan will focus on building the next generation of industrial/employment sanctuaries, with higher employment densities to enhance and strengthen the Central Eastside’s role as a major employment center in the Central City. The planning effort will follow through on the CC2035 concept of southern “bookends” to the Central City, which could provide a new employment and education hub at OMSI and South Waterfront across the river.

The Concept Plan also articulates a vision for a Green Loop around the entire Central City, circling both sides of the river and providing people of all ages and abilities a way of walking, biking, strolling or rolling on a continuous, safe route. A community amenity such as this would further enhance the Central Eastside as a destination point for recreation, cultural attractions, restaurants, tourism and other amenities that enliven an area and create a sense of place.

You can help shape the future of the Central Eastside

Share your thoughts and input at the SE Quadrant Open House on July 8, where staff will present concepts that have emerged through the planning process so far.

Tuesday, July 8, 4 p.m – 7 p.m.
Oregon Rail Heritage Center
2250 SE Water Avenue

This is the final installment of a blog series aimed at exploring the past, present, and future of the Central Eastside.

“Get on Board!” the SE Quadrant Open House on July 8, 4 – 7 p.m.

At the Oregon Rail Heritage Center learn about the Central Eastside and the big ideas coming out of the planning process so far and share ideas about the future of the area.

Train engine at the ORHC

Nickel Plate Road is one of four engines on display at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center

If you haven’t been to the Oregon Rail Heritage Center yet, now’s your chance!

On Tuesday, July 8 from 4 – 7 p.m., you can visit the museum for free and learn about the history of the Central Eastside and the thriving business ecosystem there – all in the presence of historic locomotives, railroad equipment and artifacts.

You can also learn about the big ideas coming out of the Southeast Quadrant planning process and the recent charrette event.

Staff from the following partner bureaus will on hand to answer questions and provide explanations:

  • Planning & Sustainability
  • Transportation
  • Portland Development Commission
  • Environmental Services
  • Parks & Recreation

Project staff will share input from the open house with the Stakeholder Advisory Committee as they help develop draft land use concepts. These concepts will illustrate the City’s goals for the district and identify the strategies needed to meet them.

Southeast Quadrant Open House
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 4 – 7 p.m.
Oregon Rail Heritage Center
2250 SE Water Ave (see access details below)
Topics: Existing conditions, businesses in the district, and big ideas about land use, transportation, river and open space from the Stakeholder Advisory Committee and public charrette

Snacks and refreshments will be provided.

We thank the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation for providing the venue. They will have docents available to explain the history of the train engines and give free tours.

Details for Accessing the Oregon Rail Heritage Center

  • By car: The ORHC parking lot is at the corner of SE Grand and Caruthers, just north of the curve where one becomes the other (Grand/Caruthers), and next to the red and white building that is currently the Stacey and Witbeck light rail project office, under the MLK viaduct.
  • Additional parking: Portland Opera has offered their parking lot as auxiliary parking for the event and can be found on Caruthers directly across Water Ave from the Stacey and Witbeck office.
  • By bike or on foot: Enter the ORHC from Water Ave where new traffic lights are hung but not yet active, just north of the light rail tracks.
  • By bus: Routes 6, 10, 12, 14, 15, 19, 20, 31, 32, 33, 99 have stops within a short walk to the ORHC.
  • By streetcar: Take the CL line south all the way to the OMSI stop. Exit and walk south around the front of the streetcar, cross the tracks and head back to Water Ave. Walk south on Water Ave and cross at the not-yet-active new traffic light in front of ORHC.

Portland's Central Eastside: An Industrial Sanctuary

In 1988, the Central Eastside was adopted as an official district of the Central City with new policy direction to “Preserve the Central Eastside as an industrial sanctuary . . . .” Consequently, various zoning tools were adopted to promote industrial uses throughout the district, with the exception of main street and mixed-use corridors, such as Martin Luther King Blvd, Grand Ave and Burnside.

Are these policies still working in the Central Eastside? For the most part, yes. The district is home to more than 17,000 jobs, most in traditional industrial sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, and industrial services.

However, the Central Eastside has become increasingly attractive to other uses, such as Portland’s growing knowledge and design businesses, due to its older industrial buildings that are well-suited to rehab, gritty urban character and the close-in, central location.

Increasingly brokers, land owners and businesses looking for space in the district seek more zoning flexibility and the ability to locate non-industrial uses within the industrial portions of the district.


Returning to the assumptions that led to the creation of Portland’s industrial sanctuary policy and the Central Eastside, the questions remain:

  •  What is the role of the CES industrial sanctuary in accommodating traditional industrial uses such as manufacturing, as well as emerging and new industries that will evolve the decades ahead?
  • What tools need to be created to fulfill this role to the year 2035 and beyond?
  •  How can the mixed-use corridors be optimized to accommodate more non-industrial users?

This is the thirteenth installment of a blog series aimed at exploring the past, present, and future of the Central Eastside. To learn more about the industrial sanctuary policies in the Central Eastside and the planning efforts for the district, read the Central Eastside Reader and visit the SE Quadrant Plan calendar to learn about future events.

Online Map App Reveals the Hidden Treasures of Portland’s Southeast Quadrant

Users can find information about the new station areas, building height and age, employment density, traffic signals, bike routes, vegetation and even sewer pipes

Example image from the Map App

Map of building age with historic landmarks and districts from the Map App

At the Southeast Quadrant charrette in early June, the project team unveiled a new interactive map application (map app). The online tool allowed attendees to look at data for the Central Eastside, including walksheds, parcels, historic resources, public property, water mains, parks, trails, bike routes, the urban renewal area and much more. With iPads and laptops, participants were able to use the Map App during their conversations about land use issues in the district.

Now the SEQ Map App is online for anyone to explore and use. It’s a work in progress; data and layers will be added and updated throughout the project.

How can I use the map app?

To get started, visit http://www.portlandbps.com/gis/seQuad/

Note the list of map layers in the top left corner and the legend in the lower left side. 

You can create endless map combinations. You can also use the Map App to answer questions. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Is my property going to be within a 5-minute walk of a new MAX light rail station?
    Turn on: Walksheds and Parcels.
  • Are all the oldest buildings in the district already protected with national landmark status?
    Turn on: Building Age and Historic Resources.
  • Is employment density highest in the Employment Opportunity Subarea (EOS) between SE 3rd and Water Ave?
    Turn on: Employment Density and EOS.
Click to view detailed instructions

Portland's Central Eastside: Riverfront District

The SE Quadrant riverfront area could potentially be one of the most attractive places in the Central City.

Initial development along the east bank of the Willamette was shaped by the sloughs, inlets and stream channels that flowed into the river. Bridges and trestles dominated the street network, and soon these facilities were linked to docks, which facilitated the movement of produce and connected the City of Portland with East Portland via ferry. As time passed, larger docks and other river-dependent uses emerged, dominating the east bank of the river until the middle of the 20th century.

Today the Central Eastside is often overlooked as a waterfront district because so much of it is cut off from the river by I-5. Yet despite this barrier, the east bank of the Willamette has much to offer and great potential for the future.

Eastbank Esplanade

Opened in 2001, the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade restored public access to the Willamette for inner Southeast Portland residents and established a high-performing pedestrian and bicycle loop for the Central City’s waterfront. Although much of the waterfront remains cut off from direct access to the river by the freeway, the Esplanade is well connected to the Hawthorne, Morrison, Burnside and Steel bridges.

OMSI

Built around and incorporating the historic Station L power plant, the popular Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) features a planetarium, OMNIMAX Theater and several thousand square feet of interactive display space. Since its inception, OMSI has acquired additional land and is currently in the second phase of developing a master plan for future museum expansion. The museum may pursue a mix of other uses it hopes can support its growth, while creating a more vibrant presence along the waterfront as well as at the nearby light rail station set to open in 2015.

Portland Spirit

With 200 employees and a fleet of four dinner boats, Portland Spirit runs more than 2,000 cruises annually on the lower Willamette and Columbia Rivers. The company’s Central Eastside facilities contain its maintenance facility, main office and a 500-ft dock for its current fleet. The company hopes to someday provide high-speed ferry service to Lake Oswego and Vancouver, Wash. These existing and envisioned facilities and services could connect the OMSI station area to the region in a way not possible elsewhere, adding to a vibrant eastside waterfront district.

Ross Island Sand & Gravel

In addition to mining the island for decades, Ross Island Sand and Gravel also operates a concrete batch plant — perhaps the only true waterfront industrial use remaining in the Central Eastside. This facility still depends upon its waterfront location to load and unload materials from barges, providing visitors to the OMSI-Springwater Trail with an opportunity to view one of the last waterfront industrial uses in the Central City.

New Opportunities

Stakeholders have consistently expressed a desire for the new light rail station at OMSI to become a catalyst for the development of a more accessible and vibrant waterfront district. Proximity to the water and regional transit were seen as major opportunities to establish numerous public amenities, such as new open space areas and expanded visitor destinations at OMSI and Portland Opera. The area was also identified as a key location for making stronger connections between the Central Eastside and institutions on the west side of the river, as well as between inner eastside neighborhoods and the Willamette River. A new home for the Portland Boathouse, Oregon Maritime Museum and potentially regional high speed ferry service were also explored. More work needs to be done to explore the feasibility of these ideas through the planning process, but the desire to restore the Central Eastside into a vibrant waterfront district seems to be shared by many.

 

This is the twelfth installment of a blog series aimed at exploring the past, present, and future of the Central Eastside. To learn more about the river district in the Central Eastside and the planning efforts for the district, read the Central Eastside Reader and visit the SE Quadrant Plan calendar to learn about future events.