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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: 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.

Portland’s Central Eastside: Transportation for Goods and for People

Exploring how the Central Eastside balances its different transportation needs.

It’s often asked whether land use determines transportation or transportation determines land use. The answer is yes; both are true. Sometimes these two factors evolve in complementary ways to establish a district’s unique character. This is especially true in the Central Eastside. The urban form and character of the district is shaped by past transportation infrastructure (docks, rail and freight) and continues to evolve with new infrastructure, such as light rail and streetcar.

Despite its challenges, the district’s diverse and complicated public realm is often heralded as one of its most appealing attributes.Historically, the ways of moving goods established the character of the area, which can loosely be described as an old waterfront industrial district, with wide streets, some with cobblestones, many with loading docks, where the car, truck, pedestrian and cyclist share — and often compete for — use of the same right-of-way.

Let’s take a look at all the different transportation modes that function within the district.

Freight

An industrial district thrives or dies depending on how well it is served by freight. Although the Central Eastside may not be the ideal location for new large-scale warehouse and distribution businesses, nearly every business in the district receives their raw materials and ships their products by freight — small vans, box trucks, flatbeds or semi-trailer trucks.

The ever-expanding multi-modal transportation system offers many ways into and out of the district, especially for employees. However, the area serves a larger regional customer base, which needs to circulate through the district by car and park, no matter how expansive the multi-modal system becomes.

The Automobile

As employment densities grow in the district, new parking strategies will be required for the expanding job base, especially for those who live far away and are not well connected to the district by transit.

 

Transit

The expanding light rail and streetcar systems present an opportunity to leverage those public investments to create greater job densities in the district, especially around major transit station areas. The challenge will be to manage growth in a way that the district can continue to serve its primary role as a central location for manufacturing and industrial services.

Active Transportation (Bicyclists and Pedestrians)

Regardless of how one gets to the Central Eastside — by truck, car, bus or boat — as soon as they arrive, they become a pedestrian. Pedestrian safety is paramount, and many of the pedestrian areas also provide auto and truck access. In addition, the district is bisected by multiple regional and local bicycle routes, and a growing number of district employees choose to get to and from work by bike.

Finding ways to encourage more employees to use active transportation will reduce congestion, decrease parking demand and generally make for happier and healthier employees.

 


This is the eleventh installment of a blog series aimed at exploring the past, present, and future of the Central Eastside. To learn more about transportation 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.

Portland's Central Eastside: Urban Character and Form

Main streets and corridors are at the heart of the district, providing space for commercial, retail and residential uses.

Although the Central Eastside is mostly known as an industrial district, the main street corridors along MLK, Grand Avenue, and Burnside, Morrison and Belmont Streets, as well as much of 12th Avenue, contain more than 85 acres of mixed-use zoning. These areas include a mix of housing, retail, commercial office and other land uses, with zoning entitlements that allow buildings as large and tall as those found in the Pearl District. However, there has been very little development in these areas.

The Central Eastside is experiencing a renaissance in transit service. Already served by bus and streetcar, the district will soon be connected to the greater region by light rail. When this system comes online — especially connections to the south via light rail, and west via light rail and streetcar — the expanded accessibility and exposure to the district will stimulate change that is hard to foresee. With lots of untapped development potential, these areas could provide ample opportunities for supportive retail and mixed-use development to locate in the district, just a short walk from most of the industrially zoned parcels in the district.

Balancing District Character and Function

Though it has been lost in other parts of the Central City, the unique industrial character of the Central Eastside exists largely because the area has been preserved as an industrial sanctuary.

Most buildings remain in use by large and small industrial businesses. However, as the needs and efficiencies of modern industrial users evolve, structures built decades ago for warehousing, manufacturing and industrial services may become obsolete and outlive the purposes for which they were intended. It will be important to examine how such buildings can be repurposed for nontraditional industrial uses, so the district can continue to be a business incubator for the city and regional economy.

This examination will need to consider how a mix of traditional and nontraditional industrial users can occupy the same district — often within the same building — and make it functionally and financially possible for both to coexist in the long run.

This is the tenth installment of a blog series aimed at exploring the past, present, and future of the Central Eastside. To learn more about the urban character and form of 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.
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