PORTLAND-The City Council this week unanimously adopted a plan that will guide redevelopment of North Macadam, a 140-acre sliver of bare and run-down industrial properties tucked between Interstate 5 and the Willamette River.

The plan is to turn the area into a new neighborhood providing jobs for 10,000 people, homes for 3,000 people and lots of supporting retail development. The area’s anchor will be Oregon Health Sciences University, the region’s largest employer, which will expand onto the waterfront from its landlocked location atop nearby Marquam Hill.

To help make it happen, the City Council expects to spend a total of $70 million over the next several years in support of the effort. Most recently, it put up $150,000 in support of an international design competition for the aerial tram that will connect OHSU’s riverfront expansion to its hilltop headquarters and hospital. An extension of the city’s streetcar will connect the area to the Downtown core, Portland State University and the Pearl District.

In September, OHSU moved closer to its planned expansion by acquiring 18 acres in North Macadam in partnership with developer Homer Williams. The purchase option for the property was originally held by Williams, Gerding Edlen Development and Opus Northwest, but Gerding Edlen and Opus signed over their purchase rights at OHSU’s request, and will no doubt be rewarded with North Macadam development assignments.

The land is adjacent another 10 acres Williams already owns. The two properties together make up what is referred to as the area’s Central District. The general plan is for the 28-acre district to include OHSU facilities, several hundred residential units, a conference center and hotel development and office space.

After Williams and OHSU formally split up their newly acquired 18-acre parcel, Williams will end up with the equivalent of three city blocks and OHSU will end up with four, and they will jointly own the hotel site. Williams told GlobeSt.com in September he plans to break ground on the first Central District building next fall and complete the first phase — one building for OHSU and 200 residential units — in early 2005. By that time, Homer says he expects the city’s new streetcar line will have been extended through the area and an aerial tram will have been completed.

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