Support BikePortland

Greenway Trail in the mix of Centennial Mills redevelopment

Posted by on January 12th, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Centennial Mills as it sits today
on the west bank of Willamette.
(Photo: PDC)

Next Tuesday (1/19), the Portland Development Commission will hold a public open house for their Centennial Mills redevelopment project. This project is important to anyone who cares about Portland’s bike network because running smack dab through the parcel to be redeveloped is the Willamette Greenway Trail.

The PDC bought the 4.75 acre property, which sits along the west side of the Willamette River just north of the Broadway Bridge, back in 2000. In 2006, the Portland City Council adopted the Centennial Mills Framework Plan and in March 2008 the PDC chose Orange County, California-based LAB Holdings to develop the site.

LAB Holdings and the PDC have big plans (LAB’s concept is known as SEED), including not just a redevelopment of the riverfront, but increased biking and walking connections across NW Naito Parkway and into the Pearl District. And of course, whatever happens here will impact the Willamette Greenway Trail.

Story continues below


Back in August we shared photos and a report from the most recent expansion of the Greenway which came with a new waterfront condominium complex. That new section of trail is south of the Centennial Mills parcel, separated only by the stables of the Portland Police Mounted Patrol Unit.

The question is, can the community trust the PDC and LAB Holdings to do what’s best for bike traffic through this corridor? In the 70-page SEED proposal (that’s a few years old already), LAB Holdings wrote this about people who might arrive by bicycle:

We expect many visitors to SEED to arrive by bicycle and plan to make their experience convenient and enjoyable. Bike facilities include numerous parking areas spread throughout the project adjacent to all major uses, a bike station that includes bike commuter parking, lockers, repair center, etc. and also playful components such as the bike aromatherapy hedge that combines a lavender gar- den with a bicycle rack.

Sounds great, but the biggest issue with this project will be how bike traffic is handled on the Greenway Trail. The success of any multi-use path is based largely on how direct and connected it is to the larger system. Any new expansion of the Greenway Trail should be relatively direct (as in no 90-degree turns) and easily navigable by people riding bicycles.

Below are some schematics dated December 2009 (hat tip to the BTA for these):

A drawing of the proposed bridge over Naito:

A view from the river (can’t tell where the Greenway Trail is in that drawing):

This one shows Greenway Trail alignment (which unfortunately seems to come to a dead end):

The PDC is hosting an open house on this project one week from today. Anyone who cares about the Greenway Trail is encouraged to attend. Here are the details:

    Centennial Mills and The Fields Neighborhood Park Open House
    January 19, 2009, 5:30 – 7:30 pm at Bridgeport Brewery (1313 NW Marshall Street)
    “… a public open house and presentation to review the following significant project updates: schematic design of the Centennial Mills Redevelopment; updates on The Fields design; and design concepts for the pedestrian bridge linking the two projects.”

Learn more about this project on the PDC’s website and at

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Jonathan Maus January 12, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    New blog post: Greenway Trail in the mix of Centennial Mills redevelopment

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Cycle Blogs January 12, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Bike Portland: Greenway Trail in the mix of Centennial Mills redevelopment: Centennial Mills as it sits today on t…

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Lance P. January 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Just an FYI about your comment ‘This one shows Greenway Trail alignment (which unfortunately seems to come to a dead end):’. In the last open house I asked that same questions and they stated that the below section of the pier was to be finished and connect the greenway. I suggested that the below section be kept out of the shade and be exposed to the elements so that people wouldn’t have to fight through the homeless sleeping on the pier during a morning commute. I’m not sure if they listened.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul Johnson January 12, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    I’m OK with the under-the-pier idea with the greenway, just set up pigeon cannons and/or send mounted police down the trail regularly to keep the homeless from settling.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • spare_wheel January 12, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Yeah those homeless people are dangerous. I ran over one and dented my rim. /sarcasm

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Elly Blue (Editor) January 12, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Spare wheel, and everyone — please keep your comments civil and respectful of everyone. Joking about running people over doesn’t really fly here.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Paul Johnson January 12, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Seriously, though, the grade separation is a good idea. If local pedestrian traffic has the pier above, it leaves the greenway clear for higher speed bicycle traffic, rather than creating vehicle/pedestrian conflict like you find on the Springwater during busy hours.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Joe Adamski January 13, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Development along the riverfront has a design overlay requiring pedestrian/bike facilities. Its part of the price of developing a property, and adds value to a development. The goal is to build facilities that serve the public use as well as not create disproportionate challenges to the development. I have no doubt that there will be good facilities, but since development is piecemeal, it won’t probably have good connections until its all built. Centenial Mills is one piece of the waterfront. the biggest challenge will be to integrate CM into the larger trail alignment.
    FWIW, one design element in planning documents for later development will be adding facilities to the railroad bridge between the Broadway and SJ bridges to allow connection to the npGreenway on the east side of the river to the Willamette River greenway on the west side.
    I look forward to the trails being built both sides of the river and the possibilities they offer. Its just gonna take some time. And a strong, continuous voice from the community that we want and support these projects.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • spare_wheel January 13, 2010 at 8:28 am

    If you’ve ever wondered about the homeless camp beneath the Hawthorne bridge:

    /not sarcasm

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • BTAOregon January 13, 2010 at 9:03 am

    How will Centennial Mills development impact Greenway Trail? Read more on @BikePortland & attend 1/19 Open House

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Carl (BTA) January 13, 2010 at 11:06 am

    People camping out might be one problem, but the BTA is mostly concerned about making an important route an unwelcoming, unseen place where few dare go (like the proposed CRC bike/ped facility) and sharp turns and narrow widths.

    We’re looking forward to seeing more detailed plans and hoping that our concerns are misplaced.

    By the way, the camp of folks under the Hawthorne were just about the only people we encountered on the BTA New Years Day Ride and were very quick to wish us a Happy New Year.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jackattak January 13, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Why all the homeless attacks, here? I live Downtown and pass (admittedly) the same 50 homeless people every single day, all of whom are completely sweet and cordial to me, if they notice me at all.

    What do the homeless have to do with the Greenway Trail and the Centennial Mills redevelopment?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • spare_wheel January 13, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    thanks for making my point in a more constructive manner, jackattack. those first two posts pissed me off.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • DDDeebo January 15, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Is there some other Greenway trail besides this one ( that I’ve somehow never heard of? This one certainly is not on the west side of the river.

    Recommended Thumb up 0