PORTLAND-A team of professional services firms led by Emmons Architects have been commissioned by the city’s urban renewal agency to develop a revitalization strategy for underutilized properties within two blocks of Tom McCall Waterfront Park, which forms the eastern border of Downtown Portland.

“It’s time to revive the buildings and empty parcels overlooking Waterfront Park and the riverfront,” says Amy Miller Dowell, Project Manager for the Portland Development Commission, which is paying $100,000 for the plan. “We want this project to help create an outstanding downtown riverfront environment.”

Currently, Tom McCall Park is a destination for a variety of events and draws the public to experience the river year round. Directly across Naito Parkway, however, the city says many buildings suffer from ground floor vacancies and unrealized potential, while other properties lie fallow as surface parking lots.

Specifically, the study area includes the blocks bounded by S.W. Naito Parkway and 2nd Avenue between S.W. Market and Glisan Streets. “The more I looked at this area, the more excited I became about its potential,” says Stuart Emmons, Principal of Emmons Architects. “There is virtually no interface between the city and the river. We have a lot of work to do to sew together these two activity centers.”

Emmons’ team includes Sheils Obletz Johnsen, Lango-Hansen, E.D. Hovee, Dean Macris, Urban Design Associates and Mark Friel. All the firms are local except Urban Design Associates from Pittsburg, PA, and Dean Macris of San Francisco. Macris is the former Planning Director for the city of San Francisco.

The team will identify four to five key redevelopment sites and create at least two alternative redevelopment scenarios for each site. The team will examine a variety of development possibilities to encourage private sector participation and improve access.

The team will work with an Advisory Committee of citizen stakeholders to accomplish the project tasks and will coordinate with local community and neighborhood groups. PDC anticipates the development strategies and key sites to be identified by the end of this year and the implementation actions and final report is expected in January 2003.

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