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First building will house workforce training, community resources and retail

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Progress is being made at Rockwood Rising as the first buildings walls have gone up. Gresham's ambitious development in the heart of the Rockwood community is taking shape as construction continues toward its estimated 2021 completion.

Walls are going up on the first of four buildings at Rockwood Rising, which will bring needed services into the neighborhood. Called the Innovation Center, the structure will feature different training programs and counseling services for community members.

Some of the partner groups committed to establishing a presence include Worksource Oregon, MESO and Mt. Hood Community College. Retail shops and restaurants are planned for the ground floor.

"It's a building that's going to house a lot of community service uses that are oriented toward giving people the economic opportunity and empowerment they need to be able to level up," said Josh Fuhrer, executive director of the Gresham Redevelopment Commission and one of the driving forces behind the project. "With Rockwood Rising, we are trying to shine a bright spotlight of positive activity on Rockwood."

Fuhrer led Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis on a tour of the construction site as part of the mayor's 2019 State of the City video series.

"We are at a pivotal point in the history of Rockwood where the growth is starting to gain momentum," Fuhrer said.

Rockwood Rising officially broke ground in June. The Catalyst Site, where the Innovation Center is being built, is located between Southeast Stark Street, Southeast 185th Avenue and East Burnside Street. Work is also being done on the old Rockwood Community Office across the street from the main site, where there will be workforce training and a construction/manufacturing apprenticeship program.

The next building to start construction will be the Market Hall, which will have ethnic groceries, micro-restaurants and flexible vendor stalls. There will also be a co-working space and rental kitchens. The idea behind the Market Hall is to promote Rockwood food entrepreneurs, and the organizers are working to bring in a diverse mix of foods and cultures.

"Some of the best food in the world can be found right here," Bemis said.

The other buildings, which will begin construction at a later date, include another mixed-use space with a health clinic, ground-floor retail, coffee shop, and 108 units of mixed-income housing.

The developer is RKM Development; the architect is YBA architects; and the construction is being completed by LMC Construction

"It's creating this cluster that is the heart of the Rockwood town center," Fuhrer said. "The plaza will be the living room for Rockwood going forward."

The plaza will play host to concerts, events, and a farmers market. The space will be the future home of the annual Rock the Block celebration, and there will be a children's splash pad.

"It feels like families are moving in again and putting down roots in the neighborhood, investing time in schools and the neighborhood is coming back in a way that reminds me of the '80s," Bemis said.

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