PORTLAND-An interpretive center opened Nov. 5 that will give visitors a better sense of the planned $1.9-billion, 130-acre redevelopment of industrial riverfront south of the Ross Island Bridge. The area is now known as the South Waterfront.The center, which includes a condominium sales office, comes online as site work is under way for the first two buildings in the South Waterfront’s 38-acre Central District, which extends from the Ross Island Bridge to Bancroft Street, where the interpretive center is located. The development will include residential, retail, and medical office and laboratory space for Oregon Health & Science University, which is expanding its campus down onto the riverfront from atop Marquam Hill. The two campuses will be connected by a tram.The first two buildings are a medical building for OHSU and the area’s first condominium tower. The OHSU building will be used for outpatient treatment, laboratory and office space. The condominium building, the Meriwether, is a 245-unit building that will be completed in mid-2006. The development group, which includes local developer Homer Williams, already has received early commitments for about 65% of the units.The Central District will be home to $1.4-billion worth of development at build out. Plans call for the Central District to hold some 2,700 condominium and apartment units in towers rising between 250 feet and 325 feet, making them some of the tallest buildings in the city. The height is in part in exchange for the extension of the city’s public riverfront greenway into the area. It is also a way for the city to maximize tax revenue from the condominiums, as the apartments will likely get tax breaks and OHSU’s development will not be taxable at all because it is a nonprofit entity. In addition to OHSU’s land in the Central District, it also gained a chunk in the North District this summer when the Schnitzer family donated 20 acres there to the university. OHSU says the land eventually will house a new dental school, medical and nursing education facilities and possibly a pharmacy school.

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