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Rose Quarter Development project presents ideas for Memorial Coliseum

On the rainy evening of January 26, Memorial Coliseum’s doors were opened wide for a special occasion: the unveiling of an assortment of new ideas for the renovation or adaptive reuse of the Coliseum.  

People roamed the Coliseum concourse checking out tables displaying various ways in which community members had answered the City’s call for ideas about how to enliven this important site in the heart of the city. Suggestions ran the gamut from a roller coaster, to a natural history museum, to several different versions of how to mix entertainment, recreation and other community uses. All the presentations as well as video of the evening are available at www.rosequarterdevelopment.org.

The project is being managed by the Portland Development Commission, working closely with the Mayor’s office and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. Previous planning documents for the Rose Quarter are the foundation for the project’s overall goal of creating “24-7” activity in the area and integrating the event facilities into the nearby neighborhoods.

The night’s festive atmosphere was a reminder of how active the building could be. The city skyline sparkled outside the immense glass “curtain wall” of the modernist 1960 building, which was recently designated a national historic landmark.  A live jazz band, food and drink added to the buzz of energy in the building. Short presentations from a number of the proposers took place later in the seating bowl of the Coliseum – the Winter Hawks’ ice rink gleaming all the while behind the PowerPoint screen. Presenters ranged from individuals to groups of activists, real estate developers, architects, and even the Winter Hawks themselves.  

Next steps are to have the 32-member Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) decide which teams will be invited to submit further details of their proposals. Among other criteria, financial viability is a key factor, and the detailed information will be requested in the next phase. Since the night of presentations at Memorial Colisuem, the SAC has selected seven proposals for further consideration. They will narrow these to a “short list” of proposals to be recommended to City Council in spring of 2010.

In the meantime, visit www.rosequarterdevelopment.org to view the proposals and project schedule and to submit your own comments. The proposers who will be invited to submit further details may combine elements and members from more than one team, as ideas progress and community interests become clear. The bi-weekly SAC meetings are open to the public and are also available for viewing on the Web site.

The project schedule calls for the finalist to be selected by City Council in early summer 2010. Further development of the finalist proposal will be incorporated into upcoming Central City planning efforts, which also include examination of the I-5/Broadway-Weidler freeway interchange.