South Waterfront amphitheater talk raises noise, traffic concerns
A major events promoter has selected Portland's South Waterfront as the location of choice for a temporary amphitheater, but not everyone is convinced the plan is a good idea.
Live Nation, which is looking to build a 10,000-seat amphitheater on land owned by the Zidell family, met with the heads of various city of Portland bureaus late last month to receive input related to the proposed project.
Live Nation holds nearly 30,000 events around the world each year and also currently operates 50 amphitheaters. The company had been watching Portland and waiting for the right opportunity, according to Matt Prieshoff, chief strategy officer with Live Nation.
"We looked for quite some time in the city of Portland for … the right space, the right size," he added.
The amphitheater Live Nation wants to build would be in place for seven years, the length of time the event promoter has agreed to lease the land from the Zidell family, who owns the property. The company is working on the outdoor venue project with two Portland-based firms, Hacker Architects and O'Brien & Co.
LIve Nation anticipates holding about 25 shows at the amphitheater each year between the middle of May and mid-October, all during off-peak hours from approximately 7 to 11 p.m. The venue also would be available for schools and other groups to use for concerts, graduations and similar events.
During the meeting, representatives from city bureaus, including transportation and environmental services, outlined areas that Live Nation and its team will need to address as they move toward submittal of an application to actually build the venue. Those areas ranged from geotechnical challenges to use of greenway space.
Members of the audience focused their concerns on other issues, mainly noise levels and traffic congestion.
Currently, the area only has one road for vehicular travel in and out of the area. A plan to create another way to enter and exit the area via a Southwest Bond Avenue extension was placed on hold when plans between the city of Portland and the Zidells to develop the family's South Waterfront property fell through last year.
The South Portland Neighborhood Association during the meeting called for the city to complete the extension before giving a green light to any of Live Nation's plans.
"It is our position that (Bond Avenue) must be completed prior to the establishment of the venue," Len Michon, president of the South Portland Neighborhood Association said.
Prieshoff said his company is working with the local office of transportation engineering firm Kittelson and Association on traffic and multimodal studies to find ways to minimize congestion in the area.
The amphitheater plan, for example, currently calls for 750 spots for bike parking. Live Nation also is in talks with TriMet to determine whether it would be possible to construction a way to access Tilikum Crossing, which has streetcar and light-rail connections, via a spiral ramp or staircase, Prieshoff said.
He added that Live Nation has worked with transportation agencies and ride-share companies in other cities where it has venues to provide incentives for ticket purchasers who use public transportation to travel to and from events.
Michael Harrison, representing Oregon Health and Science University, requested that Live Nation and the project team conduct an assessment of the impact of noise on north-facing buildings. One of those buildings is the Gary and Christine Rood Pavilion. The building provides housing services for children and adults from out of town while they're receive treatment at OHSU.
Steve Casey, a resident of MIrabella Portland, a high-rise retirement community, which is near the Pavilion building, also voiced concerns about noise reaching the buildings.
Prieshoff said the South Waterfront amphitheater would be positioned so that sound would be directed toward the Willamette River and away from the buildings. A structure built behind the back of the stage would contain sound and re-direct it toward the water. He added that his company is open to discussing concerns about noise to come up with acceptable solutions.
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