Willamette Falls

Rediscover

the Falls

Project History

People unite

Reconnecting people to a magnificent natural wonder, generating economic development and restoring habitats, and catalyzing historic and cultural appreciation.

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In 2011, the Blue Heron Paper Mill at Willamette Falls was closed. It created an opening – an opportunity to re-imagine public access to the Falls and redevelop the surrounding district.

The four project partners (the City of Oregon City, Metro, Clackamas County and the Governor’s Regional Solutions Team) are working to transform not only downtown Oregon City, but also this part of the Portland metropolitan region. The goal is to reconnect people to a magnificent natural wonder, generate economic development, restore habitats, and catalyze historic and cultural appreciation of this awe-inspiring site.

Thousands of dedicated people have provided input for the future of this special place, coming together to make the future vision of Willamette Falls a reality.

See the document library for more information.

Project timeline

Moving from idea to reality

2011: Blue Heron Paper Mill closes, capping a century of industry along the Oregon City waterfront.

2011 – 2013: Oregon City, Clackamas County and Metro collaborate and kickoff a comprehensive and in-depth study for the future of the site, bringing the information and a proposed plan to the State Legislature for support in spring 2013.

July 2013: Oregon legislators pass SB 5506 with bipartisan support, committing $5 million in bond funding for the project. This statewide support spurs confidence as the public process kicks off. Metro matches with a commitment of $5 million from the Natural Areas bond measure.

May 2014: After a robust and successful public planning process, Falls Legacy LLC purchases the Blue Heron site in spring 2014.

September 2014: Metro, Oregon City, Clackamas County and the Governor’s Regional Solutions Team sign a Memorandum of Understanding, formally establishing a public partnership to secure public access for a to Willamette Falls.

September 2014: A Willamette Falls Legacy Project friends group forms to support the development of a riverwalk.

November 2014: The Oregon City Commission approves the vision, framework plan and zone change to create the Willamette Falls Downtown District on the former Blue Heron site.

December 2014: Falls Legacy LLC donates an easement for a riverwalk and commits to pay an estimated 20% of the design and preliminary engineering expenses and 20% of future maintenance and operation expenses.

December 2014: Portland General Electric grants an option that would allow a riverwalk to be built across part of its dam, offering the best close-up view of the Falls.

December 2014: Oregon City, Clackamas County and Metro submit a detailed narrative highlighting the plan moving forward for the site and the Governor’s office approves the allocated $5 million in state bond funding for the project.

May 2015: Governor Kate Brown announces the partners have selected the team of Mayer/Reed with Snøhetta and DIALOG to design the public Willamette Falls riverwalk.

July 2015: The State legislature approved an additional $7.5 million of State funding for the riverwalk.

August 2015: The project wins a Community Planning and Development Grant to complete a Development Opportunity Study to determine infrastructure needs and economic development strategies on the site.

January 2016: The Partners Group approves an intergovernmental agreement to fund and authorize the project to move forward into riverwalk design and development studies

Download Vision Document

Download Riverwalk Information Boards

 

Meadowlark and Coyote walked on down the river to where Oregon City is today. “Let’s make the waterfall here,” said Meadowlark.

Riverwalk Design

The first step in the Willamette Falls Legacy Project is beginning to take shape. Design and planning of the riverwalk is underway.

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Revitalizing Urban Waterfronts

There are many examples of beautiful and compelling riverfront redevelopments that include collaborative public/private partnerships, unique features and innovative ways to incorporate the sites’ vibrant histories. Many of these projects have similarities to ours.

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Four Core Values

Four core values, identified by the project partners early in the process, guide redevelopment of the Willamette Falls site.

Learn more

Revitalizing Urban Waterfronts

There are many examples of beautiful and compelling riverfront redevelopments that include collaborative public/private partnerships, unique features and innovative ways to incorporate the sites’ vibrant histories. Many of these projects have similarities to ours.

Read More

River access options in the north riverfront

Results from the riverwalk community event – learn about design options for the north riverfront on the Willamette Falls Legacy Project site.

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