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Zidell partners with Portland Parks & Recreation; advances South Waterfront District master plan

With the Zidell master plan coming together, the plan for the South Waterfront District as a whole is coming to life.

Most recently, ZRZ Realty Company entered a partnership with Portland Parks & Recreation to create the open space parks, which is scheduled to be initiated by 2018.

With Zidell Yards's master plan moving forward with partnerships and green space plans, it's pushing along the master plan for the whole South Waterfront District, complete with new parks, retail and roads.

The 33-acre ZRZ property is the largest parcel of vacant, redevelopable land in Portland's City Center. The ZRZ plans include to add jobs, recreation, green space and housing, including 250 units of affordable housing in accordance with the city's recently passed Inclusionary Zoning policy.PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP FILE PHOTOS - Zidell's recent partnership with PP&R plans parks for the South Waterfront District's future.

In the South Waterfront District, all private developments must comply with the PDC's workforce and ethnicity requirements supporting tradespeople and businesses owned by women and people of color.

Geraldine Moyle, interim development manager with the PDC, provided an overview of the collective partnership working to develop the South Waterfront District, including Zidell and OHSU.

"With the initiation of Zidell's master plan, we were able to advance the open space partnership and in conjunction with that we were also able to advance the main master plan update," Moyle said. "And finally, construction has started on OHSU's Knight Cancer Research Building."

The Portland City Council and PDC Board first agreed on the district development plan in 2015.

Park Plans

"Adjacent to the growing OHSU Schnitzer as well as the evolving central neighborhood, we saw this as a really incredible place that offers great views, great neighborhoods and a real table that was already set when we arrived," said Brie Hensel, planner at Sasaki Associates.

Each open space will have its own identity as a park in its own right.

Gantry Plaza will be the gateway and crossroads for the district, designed around the Tram. It is imagined to be a festival or market plaza, where programmed activities like farmers' markets can be planned — or it can be used informally by the grocery store or restaurants nearby for outdoor seating.

"The public realm is a really important part of this project. We see it as the framework of the development surrounding it," Hensel said. "Ultimately at full design the master plan imagines 6.5 acres of publically accessible park space, 6.5 acres of greenway along the river's edge and then 4.5 acres of private open space and rooftop gardens as part of the development. You can see how that adds a really significant amount of open space to this new neighborhood."

Heritage Park has a large flexible open lawn on the water's edge and slipway stepping down to the water where people can take kayaks right onto the water.

"Down at the terminus of Heritage Park, here we are at the slipway coming down, redesigned in an easy way for people to get into the water, a dock for people to occupy that could be designed in a lot of ways, and connect right into the greenway system as an important node along the greenway."

Bridge Park, down the center of the grid's proposed seam, is an urban space for loading into garages, manage stormwater or be an active destination.

"Then finally at the end (of Meadow Park) we want to come back and look at the water's edge again, one of the things that makes this district so special," Hensel said.

Meadow Park is a quieter neighborhood park for district residents to walk a dog or play. It is surrounded by residential units, and is meant to have character, active edges and townhomes, but be quiet and well-connected to the riverfront.

"One of the important things about this space (Meadow Park) is that it helps navigate the streets and how Bond curves through the district, but is also a real opening onto the river and a celebration for the view to Tilikum Crossing," Hensel said.

The southern end is meant to be the liveliest hub of the district and might have a plaza that spills out and engages with the greenway's open space, which is a differentiated experience as you move throughout the district.

"ZRZ recognized the benefit of having this master plan for a 30+ acre parcel and what that would mean in terms of designing a cohesive vision for development of the site and acting as a guide for us as we move forward," said Deena Alexander, outside real estate council to the ZRZ team.

Zidell plans

The partnership (PDC and ZRZ) is expecting to complete the Zidell master plan this year.

"It's also important to point out while the City and OHSU are making progress, Zidell is also making progress and that's one of the reasons we're here today to give you an update," Moyle said. "Since signing the development agreement, Zidel has hired a director of development, hired Sasaki Associates to complete a master plan, they initiated the open space partnership with PP&R and subsequent freeway master plan update, and in September they announced the last barge construction."

Jay Zidell, president of the Zidell Company, and Charlene Zidell, introduced the master plan and their newly put together team to the PDC board last week.

"This will become the yardstick by which the family will measure private risk and success in attaining our goals and aspirations. We are here before you (THE PDC) today because we are now ready to start that transformation," Jay Zidell said. "We have put together a terrific team and over the past eight months have been developing a most compelling plan for our property."

Charlene said the programmatic vision has three tenants: to build out the heath ecosystem in the broadest sense of the definition, leveraging all the existing assets to promote research and development innovation, incubators, academic research and private industries; to incorporate arts and culture into the fabric of the community in a way that makes it accessible to all and becomes part of daily life; and to intentionally design an urban community in which the physical and social environment encourages individuals to make choices and create patterns for healthy living and wellness.

"I believe this project is different than others because it involves a longtime family business asset being developed by the family with the intention of being held by the family," Charlene Zidell said. "It is an incredible opportunity with daunting responsibility. It is our legacy. Our vision includes more than designing and constructing a mixed-use district with residential, retail, office and open spaces. It also includes nurturing the heart and soul, spirituality and intelligence of the district. It's about becoming the connective tissue that binds the community together, that seamlessly connects Zidell Yards with the OHSU Campus and South Waterfront as well as the Central Eastside Industrial District, OMSI, PCC and the Opera."

District buildings

Phil Byle, architect with GBD Architects, said his firm has a strong investment in the South Waterfront District from a design capacity because GBD has been involved with six out of 12 of the buildings that have been built there so far.

"For the most part, we are well down the road in the way of resolving issues that might be contentious and otherwise keep the project from moving forward, so we're very close to being ready to go," Byle said.

Byle said the Design Commission gave the plans a thumbs-up in a meeting earlier this month, even though a few bits and pieces still have to be resolved, such as the final location of the streetcar and the exact street alignments.

"We are anxious to share this with you. It's aspirational but realistic," Byle said. "It does a lot of the things so far we haven't been able to accomplish in the rest of the district: it touches the water in unique ways, it creates a network of open spaces stitched in with some of the highest densities the city has or will ever see, and my favorite piece is it saves probably the only piece of landmark structure in the South Waterfront District and makes it a key of what will be the commercial heart of the entire District."

Because the plans keep the barge building and adaptively reuse it as a retail hub, the area where the river bends has been a challenge to slot streets and parcels. Slices of triangular parks bend the district into the grid, creating a viewpoint to the river from the OHSU tram, green space between high-rises and connection to the river.

"At the beginning of the process we laid out a set of master plan principles related to the river in a new way and gives human access that is perhaps different than other places across the city, but it also brought us down to be responsible to the technical details of parking and environmental restraints (like) stormwater," Hensel said. "At this scale you can also see the strong role of public space and parks in the neighborhood and how three significant park spaces as well as a greenway really do a lot to link the neighborhood directly into the river."

There will be 2 million square feet of residential developments, 200,000 square feet of retail including the renovated barge building as an anchor retail destination, and 1.5 million square feet of new offices.

"Townhomes and residential towers will be near the water, and the idea is that you could have a little bit of a quieter residential neighborhood within that district," Hensel said.

Bond Street's expansion will become a retail spine, lined with shops all the way through the neighborhood. Bond Street ties into OHSU and the center of the district, and nearer the waterfront it changes to become a much smaller-scale building fabric.

Along Moody Street, the scale and massing on three major development parcels ties in the district's high-rises and its pedestrian orientation.

Hensel said, "The idea is to have at the waterfront human-scale retail and restaurants, a place very accessible and oriented to people."

By Jules Rogers
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