Oregon City Main Street finally reopens
No ribbon cutting accompanied last month's reopening of Oregon City's Main Street at the Clackamette Cove, a project that's been beset with delays and a more than $118,000 fine from the state DEQ.
New sidewalks and a new traffic circle are now available for use by the public near Agnes Avenue, but it wouldn't have made a picturesque location for a grand opening. Construction traffic for the apartment complex being built at the site have tracked mud across the new street surfaces, and the south side of the street remains behind chain-link fence.
Construction is currently taking place on 244 apartments, along with 12,000 square feet of live/work office space and recreational facilities behind the Oregon City Shopping Center. Oregon City Public Works Director John Lewis said that the south side remains fenced off for the public's safety while construction continues. Lewis attributed the delays to especially nasty weather last winter among other factors.
"We will likely keep the sidewalk on the development side of the street closed for a few more weeks just to ensure site safety while the slope grading and rockery walls associated with the development are constructed," he said. "Most of the delays for Main Street were a combination of weather, bad soils, a lot of redesign work, more work than anticipated for the utilities and overly aggressive schedules that were seldom met due to project related complications."
Oregon City put up signs to inform the public of the expected reopening date of Main Street, but the deadlines set by the city for completing the project passed without the street's reopening. Lewis said that the developer will not be picking up the cost to the city to make new signs, but the extra costs and delays have apparently been helpful to the city in negotiating the developer's responsibilities for the next phase of the project on the north side of Main Street.
"We are in consideration of System Development Charge credits that the developer is pursuing for the oversizing associated with the new street and intersection," Lewis said. "These time delays are not specified as a monetary delay value but I think this monetary control has helped to inspire the development team to get the work done ASAP."
Containing 370 units of housing, the second phase of the project would be located between Agnes Avenue and the Clackamas River Trail. Developers have been hoping for 23,200 square feet of public retail space there, along with 6,700 square feet for the residents' community/fitness centers.
Clackamette Cove, LLC, the master developer of the project, invited Grand Peaks Properties to help develop the so-called Grand Cove phase of the property. The two developers have designed and built numerous mixed-use real estate projects throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Lewis said that he is looking forward to the completion of the projects at the Clackamette Cove and is excited to see the buildings going up. He said that the developers were challenged to move over 100,000 cubic yards of soil and install of thousands of yards of soil stabilization all across what has turned out to be an unpredictable site consumed by years of industrial uses.
"Generally the greater Oregon City community really only thinks of this as a street project with some new apartments," Lewis said. "But, in fact, the work required to get to the point where these wonderful improvements can even get started has been an extremely heavy lift."
John Runyon, a watershed ecologist with Cascade Environmental Group, presented to City Commission in July on his draft Clackamette Cove Water Quality Habitat Improvement Feasibility Study. $50,000 of the Urban Renewal Commission's payment to developers went to Runyon's environmental mitigation plan for the Cove, and the $695,000 balance will be paid upon the completion of Phase 2.
Lewis saw Runyon's assessment as a well-done feasibility study of the existing environment providing some insight into possible improvements and funding opportunities. Runyon recommended that the city create a new channel into the Cove that would help prevent future algae blooms.
"I see it as aspirational and something that most would support," Lewis said.
Runyon said that closing off some of the trails along the Cove's peninsula might discourage trash from homeless encampments and encourage regrowth of native plants. He said that the city would have to make an initial investment in planting native species and removing invasive species, but a native habitat could be established that would require minimal maintenance.
"Right now it's a free for all in terms of recreation, and that has impact on the habitat," Runyon said. "You need to think comprehensively about how you're going to have recreation there."
Public access will be a key component of the development, according to developer Ed Darrow of Clackamette Cove LLC: "Clackamette Cove will be an exciting, vibrant, alive new village, unlike anything that currently exists in the Portland area. The excitement comes from the waterfront, and the variety of activities and uses, that invite the public to participate in this new master planned, mixed use village."