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City of Gresham mulls designs for play structure, luring pedestrians to plaza for Roy Kim's project.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - A wall of benches will screen off the Rockwood Rising playground from Southeast 187th Avenue, according to a rendering provided by the city of Gresham.Kids will caper on a kidney bean-shaped playground when a landmark development in Rockwood finally comes to fruition.

City planners continue to refine the small-picture elements of Rockwood Rising — a three-building project featuring towering apartments, ground-floor retail, office space and a market hall sited around a central plaza near the East 188th Avenue MAX platform.

The "kidney bean" play area will border Southeast 187th Avenue, causing some consternation among planners hoping to lure more foot traffic into the plaza. Current renderings show an uninterrupted row of benches screening off the play area from the landscaped sidewalk.

"As soon as somebody says, 'Gee, we need that wall because kids are going to follow a ball into the street,' it's not easy to go anywhere from there," noted David Berniker, urban design and planning director for the city of Gresham.

"We feel like the applicant has been pretty fair, but this is one area where the developer Roy Kim is putting his foot down," Berniker continued.

Swings, slides and a play structure will be built around a small hill or mound next to the splash pad fountain.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - An overhead view of Rockwood Rising shows the central plazas location between an apartment building, office building and market hall. Most of the plaza will be constructed of concrete pavers embedded with bits of glass to create a "more sparkly appearance," said senior planner Josh William, while the playground will be surfaced in colorful turf material.

"I guess they can wash it off if dogs go out there or whatever they need to do. Very durable," Williams said during a meeting of the Design Commission on Wednesday, March 21.

The plaza will have built-in hookups for public address and sound systems, which planners envision will be used for events like Rock The Block or even a farmers market. Staffers have brainstormed a "picture frame"-style architectural element to break up the wall of benches, though nothing has been finalized or approved.

"The entrance to anything of this consequence ought to really, really be done well," remarked Commissioner Mike McKeel. "I would want that to be something that has a wow factor to it."

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