When Portland General Electric (PGE) announced last May that it would develop a master plan for its waterfront property — in conjunction with a similar master planning process conducted by the City of West Linn — the hope was to share some ideas with the City by the end of the year.
The timing didn't quite work out that way, but PGE nonetheless made significant progress in its plan and will appear at a February City Council meeting to provide more details on its findings.
PGE owns much of the property along the waterfront, and thus serves as a key player in the City's effort to reinvigorate the area.
"It's a pretty massive site, and we are looking at all possible options," PGE spokesperson Andrea Platt said. "There are lots of complexities, lots to consider as far as keeping the (T.W. Sullivan) power plant operational, meeting the community's vision and so forth."
The City has long hoped to spur economic and recreational redevelopment along its riverfront, and its most recent planning project — referred to as West Linn's Waterfront — began in 2016. A prior concept plan for the area was approved in 2014, but scrapped when new councilors said they didn't support it.
For PGE, the decision to get involved was driven by a notable change on its property: the closure of the West Linn Paper mill in late 2017. PGE owns the mill property, which is among the nine parcels totaling around 145 acres that the company owns along the river. PGE has no plans of halting operations at the power plant any time soon, so any redevelopment work can't interfere with that. In recent months, Platt said PGE has reached out to the City regarding possible zoning changes at other riverfront properties.
"The site is zoned industrial, and that is part of the challenge because redevelopment outside of industrial (use) would be dependent on zoning changes," Platt said.
PGE wasn't ready to share specifics on its plans at this time, and consultant John Morgan — who has been West Linn's point person on the waterfront project — said the City's land use plans have mostly been on hold while it waits for PGE.
"They requested last June for us to hold off until they got their positions put together on things," Morgan said. "So we understand that not only have they completed their due diligence work, but they also have put together some development proposals, which we have not yet seen. So we're anxious to see those things."
In the meantime, the City devised a transportation plan for the redevelopment sector.
"(It's) pretty significant, especially as things need to be completely redesigned at the base of the Arch Bridge," Morgan said. "We've worked through a lot of options for that and come up with a preferred option ... That has been forwarded to ODOT (the Oregon Department of Transportation) for approval, and the tentative indication is they don't see any problems."
Staff will present that preferred transportation design to the City Council during a work session Feb. 4, according to Morgan. If the council expresses general approval of the design, the City will seek formal approval from ODOT.
"And that will take us a long way along in terms of what we need to do to get the waterfront going," Morgan said. "At that point we can start doing a more detailed design, cost estimates and really get to work trying to get the funding for those (transportation) improvements."
Morgan added the City and PGE plan to continue working together and ultimately merge their plans for the area into one.
"They're going to put some ideas on the table, but it will go in the context of our work to continue a citizens engagement process and work this through to some conclusion," Morgan said. "We'll work from their ideas ... but that doesn't mean other decisions won't be made down the road.
"One process in cooperation with PGE is the intent."
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)