Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-PLAY (7529)

Fax: 503-823-6007

1120 SW Fifth Ave., Suite 1302, Portland, OR 97204

Subscribe to RSS feed

Most Recent

View More

The Newest Portland Park! South Waterfront Greenway Central District Complete, Now Open


Portland Parks & Recreation project critical to neighborhood, downtown, transportation

(Portland, OR) –

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R)’s South Waterfront Greenway Central District project is complete, and opened to the public this morning (Thursday, May 14, 2015). The Greenway pairs a city park and valuable transportation corridor with wildlife habitat along the river’s edge - all on land reclaimed from industrial use.

“The South Waterfront Greenway Central District improves the quality of life for neighbors, commuters and visitors,” notes Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “It increases access to and within downtown and southwest Portland, and the South Waterfront neighborhood- which will be one of the densest in the state when it’s fully built out.”

The park features five river overlooks with benches, a variety of permanent lawn chairs and benches also with river views, extensive lawn areas, public art, and nearly a quarter mile of bike and running/walking trails.

“We recognize the importance of parks, transportation, and regional partnership in building a neighborhood,” said PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton. “And that’s why PDC invested $4 million in this project when the South Waterfront was in its earliest stages of development. I’m delighted to see the Greenway join PDC-funded Caruthers Park as another stellar South Waterfront open-space amenity for Portlanders.”
The site is a brownfield redevelopment that is enrolled in the State of Oregon’s Voluntary Cleanup Program. The City used clean materials on top of the remains of past industrial activities such as sawmills, ship building and breaking facilities, a concrete plant and various dump sites. More than 32,000 tons of contaminated soil and debris were removed and disposed of in a responsible manner.

A grand opening celebration for the South Waterfront Greenway – Central District (the buy-a-vowel acronym is SWGCD) is planned for Saturday, June 27 – 10am-2pm.

“TriMet was pleased to partner with the City to enhance the livability of this neighborhood and improve fish habitat, as we built the MAX Orange Line and the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People,” said TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane. “It’s a great benefit for the entire community.”

PDC contributed $4 million toward the project via Urban Renewal funding (via the North Macadam URA). TriMet provided the project a grant of $1.42 million, and the Bureau of Environment Services added $750,000. Portland Parks & Recreation funding, including $9.261 million from Parks’ System Development Charges (SDCs), covered the majority of the project cost. SDCs are one-time fees assessed on new development to cover a portion of the costs of providing certain types of public capital facilities to address impact created by new development.

The Central District project is the first of three South Waterfront Greenway (SWG) segments to be completed. The SWG North and South segments are in the planning stages.

Portland Parks & Recreation takes its responsibility to reconnect Portlanders with their river very seriously. Project designers placed trees so that view corridors to the river are preserved at each overlook.

“Portlanders need to be close to their river, and they need places to play,” says PP&R Director Mike Abbaté. “Salmon need shallow water for habitat, to escape from larger predator fish. The Greenway delivers all of that, and it is a critical piece of a bike route along the river between the Sellwood Bridge and Downtown.”

Salmon habitat and more
At the bottom of the restored riverbank, 25,500 square foot of rocky, shallow water habitat has been created so that juvenile salmon can take refuge from larger predator fish. An innovative series of retaining walls carves out the space for the shallow water habitat while supporting the park on top, at the same time providing beds on the riverbank for the habitat plantings. Project planners called for installation of a variety of native trees and shrubs, such as are found in nearby intact habitats, to provide riparian habitat in support of the fish.

The upland park contains the full range of amenities usual in an urban park: a variety of seating types, lighting, public art, trees and plantings, plus five river overlooks, one at the foot of each street that meets the park (Gibbs, Whitaker, Curry, Pennoyer and Gaines). The trees are placed so that view corridors to the river are preserved at each overlook, and vary elsewhere.

There is also a tall Osprey Nest Pole standing near the Gibbs Street Overlook, a gift from the South Waterfront Community. The South Waterfront neighborhood is expected to be the densest in the state when fully built-out. When all three of its districts are complete, the South Waterfront Greenway will link Downtown with the Sellwood Bridge. The riverbank reconstruction supports endangered fish, while the upland park will provide recreational opportunities for all of those residents, guests and workers. The South Waterfront Greenway – Central District has set the bar for riverbank park development within the City of Portland.

South Waterfront Greenway – Central District by the numbers

• Riverbank restoration: 1,050 feet in length
• Park: 1,250 feet in length
• Total budget: $15,498,100 in funding
• Funders: Portland Development Commission (PDC, via North Macadam Urban Renewal Area), TriMet, Bureau of Environmental Services (BES), Portland Parks & Recreation System Development Charges (SDCs)
• RACC 2% for public art: “Cradle” by Buster Simpson, with Peg Butler. RACC is working on a second, interpretive art piece addressing Native American themes. No artist selected yet.

# # #