Community response to the Willamette Falls Legacy Project has been overwhelming! Over the past nine months, you and thousands of Oregonians have come together to create a future vision and master plan for this amazing place. Celebrate your success and help make the vision a reality! Bring your friends and family on Thursday, March 6th from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the Keen Great Room for a celebration of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project.
For the first time in 150 years, Oregonians have the opportunity to rediscover a cultural and scenic treasure: Willamette Falls. A public vision and master plan are taking shape, with the goal of transforming a 23-acre industrial site nestled along the Falls in historic Oregon City. This former paper mill could someday serve as an economic engine, a waterfront destination, a unique habitat, a window into Oregon’s past – and a bold step into our future.
Whatever develops on the landscape will be shaped by Willamette Falls, roaring in the Willamette River below. The largest waterfall in the Pacific Northwest, it was long an important cultural and gathering place for Native American tribes. The Oregon Trail ended here. And throughout the 1800s, the Falls made history by generating energy for Oregon’s early industries and cities and fueling the nation’s first long-distance electrical power transmission. That industrial legacy ended in 2011, when the Blue Heron Paper Co. closed its doors – the last in a succession of businesses that contributed to Oregon City’s strong working waterfront.
Portland General Electric has graciously allowed us to link to their video on the history of Willamette Falls. A link to the 6 minute version can be found here
The former paper mill is for sale, but the site’s complexity and risks have slowed down a transformation. That’s why Oregon City, Clackamas County, Metro, the State of Oregon and the property’s bankruptcy trustee are working together to develop a vision and master plan. By rezoning the site and providing certainty for investors, the Willamette Falls Legacy Project will help a new era take shape along the Falls.
There’s a lot at stake. If the property is abandoned, the resulting blight would hurt property values in downtown Oregon City, one of the region’s most important economic hubs. Public safety risks and extra costs would burden taxpayers. Water quality and wildlife would deteriorate in one of the Willamette River’s most ecologically diverse stretches. And Oregon City wouldn’t recover the 175 family-wage jobs that vanished along with the paper mill.
With master planning underway, Oregonians can establish a statewide legacy and reconnect Oregonians and visitors with Willamette Falls. They can define how the area is transformed for economic redevelopment, public access, healthy habitats, and historical and cultural interpretation.
To see a map of the site, click here.
For frequently asked questions, including updated information on a potential purchaser, click here.
A land use application for the Framework Master Plan to help implement the vision by rezoning the industrial area to allow a mix of uses will go before the Oregon City Planning Commission beginning on April 21, 2014. The Master Plan outlines how development will generally occur, identify key areas for open space and development, and re-establish the Main Street grid and connections for people to view majestic Willamette Falls. You can help implement the vision by giving verbal or written testimony during the public hearings process. For more information, contact Kelly Moosbrugger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may be aware that several developers have made offers to purchase the Blue Heron property, including the most recent $2.8 million bid from California-based Shopoff Group. You can read about the details of that offer in an article from the Oregonian here and check back with us to learn about the latest developments as they unfold. As you can imagine, the complexities of the site has been a hurdle this year for prospective buyers. Regardless of the outcome of this or future proposals, approval of the vision and Master Plan is critical to breaking down some of these perceived and real barriers to development and provide the certainty developers need to consider this investment in Oregon’s future.
We are humbled by your passion to create a community supported vision for this Oregon landmark and want to thank you for your contributions to rediscovering this cultural and scenic treasure. Bring your friends and family on Thursday, March 6th from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the Keen Great Room for a celebration of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project:
- Join the Wall of Champions – first 100 Champions get a commemorative pin!
- Pose in front of a life-sized backdrop of the Falls
- Be inspired by the Willamette Falls art show and raffle
- Preview the vision and master plan
- Enjoy Lebanese appetizers from Nicholas Restaurant
- Toast the Falls with drinks donated by A to Z Wineworks and Ecliptic Brewing
- Explore other First Thursday events throughout the Pearl District
Can’t make it to the celebration? Show your support by sharing news on social media, writing a letter of support, distributing flyers or volunteering to lead tours. Sign up to be a Community Champion today!
Celebrate the legacy and help realize the vision for an Oregon landmark.
Willamette Falls is one of the nation's most beautiful and historic natural wonders - yet for more than 150 years it has been hidden from view. Thanks to a growing community of supporters, Oregonians are on the brink of rediscovering Willamette Falls. But it won't happen without you.
Snow got best of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project last month but there’s good news: The celebration is rescheduled for Thursday, March 6. Same time, same place, same concept. Please reserve your spot to let us know that you’re still available to celebrate this Oregon landmark, help move the project to the next phase, and enjoy art, food and drinks.
Celebrate the Falls, see the vision and bring your friends to this First Thursday event.Together, we're making Oregon history.
- Join the Wall of Champions - first 100 Champions get a commemorative pin!
- Get inspired by a Willamette Falls art show and raffle
- Preview the vision and master plan
- Enjoy Lebanese appetizers from Nicholas Restaurant
- Toast the Falls with drinks donated by A to Z Wineworks and Ecliptic Brewing
- Pose in front of a life-sized backdrop of the Falls
- Explore other First Thursday events throughout the Pearl District
Special thanks to KEEN Footwear for their outstanding gathering space
For the first time in 150 years, Oregonians have the opportunity to rediscover a cultural and scenic treasure. Nestled in historic downtown Oregon City, Willamette Falls is the 2nd largest waterfall in North America. Over the past eight months, an ever-growing community of supporters has created a future vision for the former Blue Heron Paper Company site. The Willamette Falls Legacy Project will transform this place of historic significance into a statewide destination, creating public access to the Falls and reinvigorating Oregon City’s downtown as a regional hub of employment, shopping, business, tourism and housing.
As of today, we have over 220 people RSVP'd to attend the celebration party- sign up today to join your friends and colleagues to maintain momentum and let your state and regional elected officials and future funders know that public access to the falls is a statewide priority.
We need you to make the vision a reality! Bring your friends and family on Thursday, February 6 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the KEEN Great Room for a celebration of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project:
- Speak with local, regional and state representatives about this once in a generation opportunity
- See the vision for this Oregon landmark
- Become a Community Champion to pledge your support
- Take in the First Thursday Willamette Falls art show
- Enter a raffle to win your own Mark Gamba photo of the Falls
Secure your place in Oregon history today
Since the Willamette Falls Legacy project launched in July last year, project leaders and staff have connected with more than 2,500 Oregonians through two surveys, nearly 50 community conversation discussions, and three large interactive community events. The resulting Vision and Master Plan for the Willamette Falls Legacy Project highlight the enourmous benefits the project can offer people in Oregon City and throughout the state:
- A waterfront trail that will offer unprecedented access to connect with the river and enjoy a front-row seat to experience the great Willamette Falls.
- An expansion of downtown through the creation of six new city blocks and an extension of the street grid that will serve as a vibrant hub of employment, shopping, business and tourism.
- Restored habitat and increased roughness of the shoreline to re-establish native plant communities and support migratory birds and fish like salmon and lamprey.
- Re-use of four key buildings on site plus the woolen mill foundation, which dates back to 1865, to honor of the rich cultural and industrial history of the Willamette River and Oregon City.
Thanks to a growing community of supporters, Oregonians are on the brink of rediscovering Willamette Falls. But it won’t happen without you. Become a Community Champion today and then join us Thursday, February 6 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the KEEN Great Room in Portland for a celebration.
At this stage in our process, we've talked to thousands of you. We've spoken to every neighborhood association in Oregon City, and we've met with dozens of regional community groups. We are humbled by the community support so far for the Vision and Master Plan of the former Blue Heron site.
We also know there are Oregonians - even people who live just minutes away from Oregon City - that have no idea that they are living so close to North America's second largest waterfall. And we don't blame them, because it's been effectively cut off from the public for over 150 years!
Now that we are making plans to open up public access to the falls and redevelop the 23 acres next door, we want to spread the word! We need widespread awareness and support for this project in order to keep the ball rolling. We'll need support from regional and statewide elected officials, not to mention the funding to make this project happen.
So, for those Oregonians that already know about this once in a lifetime opportunity, now is your chance to be an ambassador and show your support outside of your neighborhood. We want to see your smiling faces at the celebration on February 6th. Now is our chance to tell the entire region about our incredible asset - Willamette Falls! Click here to join the 100 people who have already RSVP'd today (apologies for bad link - the problem has been fixed)!
Bringing the vision to reality – join us February 6 to celebrate the Willamette Falls Legacy Project Vision and Master Plan!
Some said it couldn’t be done, but with your help, we did it! Together, in literally thousands of ways, we developed a cohesive future vision for a vibrant Willamette Falls district that:
- Creates economic opportunity, employment and tourism
- Connects future generations to the falls, our heritage and the future
- Protects and enhances unique and treasured biological assets
Your guidance has helped the project partners develop a future vision for the site that integrates all four core values of public access, economic redevelopment, healthy habitat, and historic and cultural interpretation.
Celebrate the results of your work February 6 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the KEEN Great Room in Portland at 515 NW 13th Avenue. Our state and region will need your creativity and commitment to bring the vision to reality. Bring your friends, kids and coworkers. See the vision, take in a Willamette Falls art show, and enjoy food and drinks at this First Thursday celebration. Together, we are making Oregon history.
What you can do to help realize the vision? Join the Wall of Champions and commit to creating a national legacy. Can’t make the celebration? Sign up to be a Community Champion today!
Great Turnout at Meeting Last Week, Check Out the Plan Online, Become a Champion, Celebrate our Success!
The third Community Interactive Event was a terrific success! Thank you to the more than 100 people who made it to the Ainsworth House and Gardens on a rainy Thursday night to review the Master Framework and Demonstration Plans. If you weren’t able to attend, there’s good news – the full presentation which unfolds the Master Framework Plan and three Demonstration Plans are now online at www.rediscoverthefalls.com under "The Plan" drop down menu.
The Master Framework Plan outlines how development will generally occur, identifying key areas for public access and open space and for development re-establishing the Main Street grid and connections for people to view majestic Willamette Falls.
The Demonstration Plans are inspirational in nature and highlight three possible ways that development and open space may occur, but are not blueprints for future development. The Demonstration Plans are a tool to help people understand what opportunities exist based on the guidelines set forth in the Master Framework Plan. The development process will take place over time with collaboration between the public entities and the private developer. Click here to share your thoughts on the Master Framework Plan and Demonstration Plans.
As you may know, Langley Investment Properties has submitted a Letter of Intent to purchase the Blue Heron site for redevelopment. Click on the video below to hear Liam Thornton, Langley Managing Director of Investment and Development, speak about the Framework Master Plan following Thursday’s presentation. A link to the full presentation will be available soon.
Closing out the December 12th Event, participants were able to talk with staff about the plans, the inter-related four core values, and sign up for a tour of the site in spring 2014. Participants also were encouraged to sign up as a Champion for the Willamette Falls Legacy Project. To add your name to the Wall of Champions please go to the Community Champion Sign Up page on our website and let us know how you would like to participate! We’re thrilled at the responses we have already received and can’t wait to move forward with your continued support and enthusiasm.
Former Mayor Alice Norris hangs her champion tag on the wall
Lastly, we want to want to honor your commitment and passion to the Willamette Falls Legacy Project. We are humbled by your commitment and passion to create a community supported vision for this iconic place for residents and visitors alike to enjoy over the next 100 years and more!
Please Save the Date for a celebration the evening of February 6th, 2014 5:30-8:00 PM at KEEN headquarters, 505 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97209. More details and electronic RSVP invitations to come!
Community Meeting Tonight! Langley Investment Submits a Letter of Intent to Purchase the Blue Heron Site for Redevelopment
It has been an exciting week for the Willamette Falls Legacy Project. The news of the intent to purchase the site is great timing for our third Community Interactive Event this evening at 6pm, at the Ainsworth House and Gardens. Be sure you’ve made arrangements to attend! We’ll give an overview of the process to date, highlight community engagement and results from the survey we ran this fall, and of course, deliver a fantastic presentation of the final concept as it has emerged for the site. We’ll also be able to share with you an update on the site status with the intent to purchase and what it all means going forward. You won’t want to miss it!
There have been a few articles in the Oregonian, the Daily Journal of Commerce*, and Portland Business Journal, go ahead and take a gander before coming to the event tonight. We look forward to seeing you!
*You need to be a subscriber to the DJC to access their content.
The Oregonian broke the news this morning on Langley Investment Properties bid for the site. We will get back to you with more information on this exciting development as we learn more.
We hope everyone had a delightful holiday! We are gearing up for the December 12th Community event and have been hard at work on the survey results report.
The full report is available on the “Documents and Drawings” page and is called the Opt In Survey #2 Report. There are also data tables to review if you’d like to see the results in detail, including the demographics of the survey respondents. All data is anonymous.
Lastly, but certainly not least, please remember to join us for the next community interactive event - 6:00pm on Thursday, December 12! The event will be held at the beautiful Ainsworth House and Gardens , 19130 S. Lot Whitcomb Drive, in Oregon City. We’ll be reviewing the final concepts which have been built from valuable community guidance. We’ve connected with more than 4,000 Oregonians and are excited to reflect how this has influenced the planning process. Join us prior to the concepts are formalized for the land-use application this spring. The event is sure to be an inspiring way to spend the evening. Mark your calendars and share with your friends, colleagues, and family. We can’t wait to see you there!
With the holidays upon us we have a short update for everyone this week.
First, we’ve uploaded an incredible Existing Conditions Report to the project website. It’s a wonderful booklet with rich images that reviews the history and culture, site character, existing conditions, opportunities and constraints of the Blue Heron Site. It includes other projects from around the world that are helping to inspire the master framework planning process. To download the booklet simply go to the “Documents and Drawings” webpage and scroll down to find the Existing Conditions Report to download. It may take a while as there are amazing high-resolution photos but it is certainly worth the wait. While you’re investigating the Documents and Drawings section of the website, you also will be able to find other planning process information, like the results from the October 10 community event.
Please remember to join us for the next community interactive event - Thursday, December 12. The event will be held at the beautiful Ainsworth House and Gardens, 19130 S. Lot Whitcomb Drive, in Oregon City. We’ll be reviewing the final concepts which have been built from input received from the community at large at the events as well as through online surveys. We’ve connected with more than 4,000 Oregonians and are excited to reflect how you have influenced the planning process. We also need one final check-in before we move forward to the land-use application process for the site. The event is sure to be an inspiring way to spend the evening. Please mark your calendars and share with your friends, colleagues, and family. We can’t wait to see you there!
More than 1,900 Oregonians contributed their feedback on concept alternatives for the redevelopment of the Blue Heron Paper Mill site in a survey this fall. This important guidance is helping influence the final concepts being developed for the master framework plan. Please join us to view these concepts at a third community interactive event Thursday, December 12, 2013, from 6-8 pm. The meeting will be located at beautiful Ainsworth House and Gardens , 19130 S. Lot Whitcomb Drive, in Oregon City. Please mark your calendars and share with your friends, colleagues, and family. We can’t wait to see you there!
From this latest survey which presented a range of alternative concepts for the redevelopment of the 23-acre industrial site in Oregon City adjacent to Willamette Falls, some highlights:
- 62% of participants feel that incorporating some elements of the industrial past sounds interesting, but said this should be in moderation. 42% prefer to keep and reuse only the most structurally sound historic buildings on the site.
- 82% of participants agree that a majority of development should take place away from the riverfront, nearer to the bluff and downtown Oregon City – with areas closer to the river and the waterfall preferred for habitat restoration and public access.
- 55% say that restaurants/brew pubs/coffee shops is their first or second priority for economic development, with 32% ranking a public market as their first or second priority.
- 56% of respondents say that removing structures not identified for preservation within the floodplain to provide restored habitat opportunities for native plants and wildlife is one of their top three priorities for habitat restoration on the site.
We are currently developing graphs to help illustrate survey results and will have the full report uploaded to the project website, www.rediscoverthefalls.com, for your review next week.
Interrelated Core Values
As we gear up with the survey results and refine our final concepts for review on December 12, there is a fundamental point to understand and keep in mind. We are not asking you to choose any one scenario over another or asking you to choose one core value (Historical and Cultural Interpretation, Public Access, Healthy Habitat, Economic Redevelopment) over another. The goal of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project in 2013 and early 2014 is to create a master framework plan which integrates all the core values in a synergistic way. Successful approaches accomplish them all while providing certainty as well as flexibility for redevelopment.
Concepts developed to date present a variety of possibilities for re-use of the site. For example, public access and healthy habitat alone aren’t possible without economic redevelopment and vice versa. Leveraging partnerships, funding, and support from a range of private, public and non-profit partners will be essential to realize redevelopment of the 23-acre former Blue Heron Paper Company site and turn it into a legacy asset to serve current and future generations for years to come.
We look forward to seeing you on December 12 to explore this approach further, and share with you the results that you have helped to build for the master framework plan and visioning strategy for the Willamette Falls Legacy Project.
If you have not completed it already, the survey is still open on www.rediscoverthefalls.com. We will be reviewing incoming feedback through January 15.
We look forward confidently because of your involvement, please stay tuned and continue to share the project with your friends and colleagues!
Take the survey! Nearly 1,900 Oregonians have contributed their feedback on preliminary concept alternatives. Are you among them? Make sure your voice is heard in this formative phase. Let us know if we’re on track, if we’re missing something, or if you have that great idea to share.
The survey will close this Friday, November 15, at 5 pm. You can find it at www.rediscoverthefalls.com. On the home page, click on the link that says - you guessed it - “Take The Survey”. Take it!
Please also share this with friends, colleagues, and family who you know are interested in what happens with redevelopment of the 23-acre Blue Heron Paper Co. site in Oregon City. Send them this posting (and go ahead and like the Facebook page while you’re at it) in order to receive frequent project updates, check out historical photos-of-the-day and interact with others who are passionate about this once in a lifetime opportunity. Help us see the Willamette Falls Legacy Project through to its full potential. Thank you!
Great Turnout November 5 at the Willamette Falls Legacy Project Design and Planning Professionals Event
More than 100 urban design, architecture, landscape architect and planning professionals participated in a morning workshop November 5. They attended to learn about Mill Ruins Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the ongoing development for Centennial Mills in Portland, Oregon, and of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project.
Willamette Falls Partner Group member Jim Desmond, Metro Regional Government, kicked off the presentations with a brief overview of the partnership structure for the Willamette Falls Legacy Project and highlighted the importance of public/private collaboration for long term success.
Tom Meyer of MSR Architects in Minneapolis presented on the robust process and success for the Mill Ruins Museum. Similarities in challenges and opportunities between Mill Ruins and Willamette Falls were abundant. In evaluation forms, participants wrote that they were inspired by the possibilities of waterfront redevelopment. Particularly compelling were the innovative ways in which the industrial heritage of the site was captured and its authenticity catalyzed vibrant civic spaces for farmers markets, outdoor restaurants, and even an opera company. Property values have increased exponentially along the waterfront and the surrounding area. The project itself is an icon for the City of Minneapolis.
Gil Kelley, former Director of the City of Portland’s Planning Department and current Senior Vice President of Harsch Investments presented on his current work with Centennial Mills. In a particularly inspiring response during the panel discussion, Gil highlighted the need to create and leverage partnerships to build a successful catalyst project and to “Go Big or Go Home”. He said that timidity and over-caution is not the way to galvanize the redevelopment of an iconic waterfront industrial area.
Mike Zilis, Principal at Walker Macy, presented on the current phase of work in Oregon City for the Willamette Falls Legacy Project. He reviewed current opportunities and challenges in such a complex and inspiring place.
After presentations and a brief panel discussion, participants discussed the following three questions in workshop format:
- Taking into account the relatively soft real estate market and the significant amount of space available in existing buildings on site, what do you think is the right mix between public space and redevelopment? And how are those two best integrated?”
- What do you think is the greatest opportunity for public access and open space at this site?
- How can we maintain the momentum built through process and continue to build community champions in the coming years?
The results from those conversations are being compiled currently. We look forward to sharing the thoughts of such a talented room of colleagues and professionals. Stay tuned for an update!
In the meantime, if you have not yet done so, please head on over to www.rediscoverthefalls.com to take the survey on concepts alternatives for the site. It runs through Nov. 15. If you haven’t already, be sure to like us on Facebook!
Need a little bit more background information before you take the survey? The October 10 Community Interactive Event video is now available. Watch the consultant team walk you through the site through the lens of the four core values.
This video provides the full presentation on the alternatives being developed for the site. Excellent sound and visual quality. If you really wanted to come on Oct 10 but couldn't make it, this is worth the watch! You will also be able to see your fellow community members let us know what inspired them, what we missed, and what will keep them involved in the long haul. When you're done - go ahead and take that survey! (Note: you do not need to watch the video in order to take the survey.) http://survey.optinpanel.org/.../selfserve/be2/opt13011...
We developed a new survey to launch this week. Results will be better if you take it! This survey kicks off the next phase of the Willamette Falls Legacy Project visioning process focusing on alternative concepts. You’ll see questions focused on options to create public access, healthy habitat, historic and cultural interpretation opportunities, and economic redevelopment. It will be posted online at www.rediscoverthefalls.com and through Metro’s Opt In online opinion panel by Friday, October 25.
More than 2,000 Oregonians answered the first survey this summer. Those responses helped us get to where we are today. We are looking forward to hearing what you have to say about the deeper concepts. Your feedback will help build a robust Master Framework Plan for the redevelopment of the Blue Heron Paper Mill site.
Keep an eye out for the survey by the end of the week. Take it, share it and thank you for your participation!
Last Friday, Eclipse LLC announced it was unable to move forward with the purchase of the Mill Site due to the failure of its funding partner to come through with the financing. The goal of this year’s vision and master planning process is to remove and reduce barriers to redevelopment and begin building long-term champions for the site. The project partners believe this will be accomplished by creating a vision and framework that integrates the four core values into a plan that is economically feasible and supported by the public.
Project partners continue to work with the bankruptcy trustee and look forward to engaging with the development community as this process unfolds and the site is rezoned. An up to date source for news coverage regarding the sale of the site and the planning process can be found here.
Over 130 people attended a packed event last night to hear conceptual ideas from the Walker Macy team, and break into facilitated groups where they discussed issues relating to three questions. What inspired you most this evening? What have we missed and What will keep you involved for the long haul?
A big thank you to all attendees, facilitators, and volunteer note takers all the way from the University of Minnesota! Your enthusiasm and passion for the site was very inspiring.