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Ask BikePortland: What’s up with Zidell and the future of South Waterfront greenway path?

Posted by on September 27th, 2016 at 9:30 am

City of Portland graphic showing path location in front of Zidell property.

City of Portland graphic showing future path location in front of Zidell property.

Today’s question (actually it’s more of a statement in need of clarification) comes from reader Douglas K.:

Zidell says they’ll be building just one more barge. That could clear one of the last major obstacles to completing the Willamette Greenway trail sooner than expected.

Could it? Many of you have contacted about this in the past few days. Here’s the lowdown and background on the issue:

One of the most common signs of Portland’s ever-changing urban landscape is movement of industrial manufacturing away from the the central city. It happened in northwest Portland before the Pearl District became a thing and it’s happening right before our eyes in the central eastside.

The South Waterfront area was never as developed as those two areas but the presence of manufacturing still looms over all the new condos, OHSU medical buildings and food carts. With the announcement last week that Zidell Marine Corporation will stop building shipping barges, many of you instantly thought of the South Waterfront Greenway path.

The path currently ends abruptly at the start of Zidell’s shipyard near the Ross Island Bridge.

Vision for path design XXXXX

One vision for future path design via Pinterest. Notice the nod to shipbuilding.

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(Graphic: City of Portland)

(Graphic: City of Portland)

So back to the question: Does Zidell’s announcement mean we’ll be riding on the path sooner than expected? Not exactly.

We asked Portland Parks & Recreation for the official word:

Zidell’s endeavor does not change the timeline for design of the Greenway. That process is already underway. Zidell’s plans could potentially change the timeline for construction, but as we understand it, barge operations in the form of repairs and modifications to existing barges are expected to continue at the site. The announcement mentions that only the building of new barges is being stopped with the one currently being built on the site.

The timeline for the Greenway construction is set forth in the Development Agreement (PDF) between the City and Zidell (ZRZ Realty). This part of the Greenway (from Tilikum Bridge south to Gibbs Street) is identified as “Phase 3” of 3 phases, so the last phase. That phase in the Development Agreement is shown as years 2025-2035.

It has always been anticipated that the Greenway build-out would occur in conjunction with immediately adjacent development. Zidell is undertaking a Master Plan, which will set the timing and location for their development.

The City refers to this section of the path project as the North Reach. You can learn more about it on the Parks bureau website.

Get more burning questions answered in the Ask BikePortland archives.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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39 Comments
  • Avatar
    Kyle Banerjee September 27, 2016 at 9:57 am

    A massive improvement that will make for a more pleasant experience and hopefully mitigate the mess along Moody.

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      jeff September 27, 2016 at 12:30 pm

      that area is slated for construction for the next 10+ years. the “mess” isn’t going anywhere and will probably get worse before it gets better.

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    Spiffy September 27, 2016 at 10:24 am

    I’m sad you left the food carts off your images… those are important, I need to know where they are!

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      John Landolfe September 27, 2016 at 10:33 am

      There will be a taco truck on every corner.

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    maccoinnich September 27, 2016 at 10:37 am

    The Parks spokesperson isn’t entirely correct. The Phase 3 greenway is between the Ross Island Bridge and SW Gibbs, not the Tilikum Crossing. The Phase 2 greenway runs from the Marquam Bridge to the Ross Island Bridge. Phase 2 is scheduled between 2018 and 2015.

    Source: page 37 of the development agreement as adopted by City Council (http://efiles.portlandoregon.gov/Record/7842060/File/Document)

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      maccoinnich September 27, 2016 at 10:38 am

      *2018 and 2025

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        Spiffy September 27, 2016 at 3:07 pm

        that’s even worse than the time window for getting your cable TV installed!

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    rick September 27, 2016 at 10:39 am

    What does it mean without a safe way to quickly get to Lake Oswego, Marylhurst University, and West Linn?

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    Mike 2 September 27, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Thank god! The last thing we need is 60 well paying manufacturing jobs.

    What we really need to do is develop this land into high-rise, high-cost apartments ( http://www.theemerypdx.com/apartments-for-rent/ ) with little boutique coffee and artisan sandal shops underneath. After all, we need more space for Californians to move into during their great migration.

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      bikeninja September 27, 2016 at 10:52 am

      But your forgetting that everyone working in the high cost apartments is working from home curating you-tube videos, updating websites and selling stuff on etsy.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 27, 2016 at 11:28 am

        I, for one, welcome our new southern overlords with their fancy computer software and great taste in real estate.

        All hail our new makework economy!

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      Chris I September 27, 2016 at 11:58 am

      The redevelopment will employ many times more than the 60 ship builders that work there now, both in construction jobs and permanent jobs. Do you really think it is good for the city to have a huge section of land just a few miles outside of downtown devoted to ship building, employing just 60 people? Portland has acres of empty, river adjacent industrial land that is nowhere near downtown, and in places where people have no desire to live.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty September 27, 2016 at 1:20 pm

        After the construction phase is over, will the 60 barista and security jobs be better than the 60 ship building jobs?

        All jobs are not created equal.

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          m September 27, 2016 at 1:24 pm

          Don’t forget the buskers!

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          Chris I September 27, 2016 at 2:22 pm

          I’m not sure I even understand the line of reasoning in this complaint. Zidell is choosing to shut down this business, probably because it is no longer profitable. If it was profitable, they could stay open, or move to another location and develop this land. Your beef is with the owners of Zidell, not the city of Portland or anyone advocating for development here.

          In response to Mike’s comment about jobs in the South Waterfront… as someone who learned to ride a bike along the greenway and in the industrial area that preceded this development, I personally see a lot more jobs in the area. When I was growing up, it was mostly warehouses and storage units, save for Zidell. Now I see a lot of jobs in the service industry (probably many more than were employed at the warehouses) and a significant number of high-paying jobs at the OHSU facilities that now occupy several lots in the South Waterfront. People are living in the South Waterfront, and many of them work there, or up on the hill. This sentiment about outsiders destroying Portland belongs at a Trump Rally, not on this blog.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty September 27, 2016 at 2:33 pm

            Zidell is choosing to close; I don’t know what factored into their decision. My comment was related to the idea that exchanging 60 manufacturing jobs for an unspecified number of service jobs would be a good thing for the city.

            Service jobs are not inherently bad, but they do tend to pay less than manufacturing jobs.

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              Eric Leifsdad September 27, 2016 at 2:41 pm

              In reality, most of the jobs will be parking attendant. The 50-story parking garage we’re going to build there in a few years will be a testament to our leaders’ vision.

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            m September 27, 2016 at 3:08 pm

            “This sentiment about outsiders destroying Portland belongs at a Trump Rally, not on this blog.”

            This blog is about a lot more that bikes. If you don’t think that the loss of thousands of living wage jobs in places like what is now known as the Pearl District, the Inner Eastside and now South waterfront being replaced with service industry jobs has anything to do with the quality of life issues facing many in this City then you are not paying attention. And no, I am not a Trump supporter.

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              Chris I September 27, 2016 at 3:20 pm

              And I would argue that those areas of the city now are host to many more living-wage jobs, just in different industries. Buildings have to be built and maintained, which requires skilled, high-wage labor. And the buildings now host thousands of new jobs in software, design, IT, healthcare, etc.

              And manufacturing is still strong in Portland. I’ve worked in the industry for years, all over the Portland Metro. We have lost some trucking work to Mexico, but we have gained in other sectors like aerospace.

              The primary driver of the livability crisis in Portland is a lack of housing. Too many new residents (and jobs) and not enough housing stock. Developing properties like the Zidell lots into thousands of new units is exactly what we need to be doing.

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            Mike 2 September 27, 2016 at 3:43 pm

            Chris I –

            My “complaint” is that Portland is losing more manufacturing jobs, therefore more engineering jobs, supplier jobs, sales jobs and everything else associated with the closing of these businesses. There will be more affected than just the 60 people at Zidell.

            Maybe my beef is with the city of Portland. Perhaps they could have done more to help ensure the survival of local manufacturing. Maybe the city raised the property tax in order to “encourage” these businesses to move on and make way for a more profitable income base of high end housing? Maybe Zidell is just selling out. What I do know is that barges WILL continue to be manufactured, but instead of locally, by our neighbors and relatives who put the money back into our economy, perhaps they will be made in China.

            It’s not outsiders that are destroying the city. They are moving here because (I assume) they are under the understanding that 1. housing is more affordable than where they are coming from 2. that there will be decent paying jobs when they get here.
            When they arrive and find that housing is not that affordable and many of our better paying middle-class jobs are gone, I wonder how they will feel about that green-space?

            Let’s look at all the manufacturing that has left Portland along the waterfront near the Pearl District. What has replaced it? High-end housing.

            So you see a lot more jobs in the service industry – I guess that’s great – providing the waiter/bartender/salesperson can afford a $1200 studio while also being able to save for retirement and an emergency find.

            I hope I have explained this in a way you understand – if not, oh well. This sentiment belongs on this blog – whether you agree with/understand/empathize it or not.

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              pooperazzi September 27, 2016 at 4:48 pm

              I don’t think a job as a waiter allows folks to save for retirement and an emergency fund anywhere, not just here. Working as a shipbuilder ain’t exactly a ticket to early retirement either. That high-end housing is mostly housing people with the sort of higher paying jobs that we DO want to bring to Portland

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 27, 2016 at 4:50 pm

                Do we want high-paying jobs (and high-end apartments) for the people who are already in Portland, for people who come to Portland, or does it really matter?

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              maccoinnich September 27, 2016 at 5:47 pm

              No, the city didn’t raise “the property tax in order to “encourage” these businesses to move on”, nor would they be able to under Oregon’s constitution. Right now Zidell are paying $37,788.65 a year in property taxes for their land south of the Ross Island Bridge, which is a tiny amount for such a large parcel.

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          Tom Hardy September 27, 2016 at 6:45 pm

          The baristas and security people are mostly minimum wage Kitty.
          They are subsedizing the apartment workers working on their computers for foreign companies.

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        Mike 2 September 27, 2016 at 1:58 pm

        And what permanent jobs would those be? Retail maybe? Service industry jobs? Can any of those positions afford the $1200 studio apartment above them?
        Please look at that area, that which has been developed there in the past 5-10 years, and tell me what permanent jobs have been provided beyond say a lease manager or building maintenance people, etc.
        I would have hoped that maybe more manufacturing, or even gardening could use the space.

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          maccoinnich September 27, 2016 at 5:40 pm

          Well there are two huge OHSU buildings in South Waterfront, and three more currently under construction. One of the main reasons for creating the North Macadam Urban Renewal Area was to enable OHSU to expand in Portland, rather than in Hillsboro.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty September 27, 2016 at 5:44 pm

            That’s right, I almost forgot… “Build us a tram or we’ll move!”

            There is no way they would have moved.

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              maccoinnich September 27, 2016 at 6:09 pm

              OHSU paid for the vast majority of the cost of building the tram…

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 27, 2016 at 6:16 pm

                Did they? I thought it was about half. Why did they threaten to leave if it was not money?

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                maccoinnich September 27, 2016 at 7:24 pm

                Land, or lack thereof at the top of Marquam Hill. Here’s an article from 1998 about their plans to expand in Hillsboro:

                http://imgur.com/a/CQYMl

                As for the percentage of the tram costs paid for by OHSU, wikipedia says 85%. That seemed high to me, so I searched the city archives. According to slide 10 of the presentation to City Council in April 2006, OHSU were responsible for 71% of the costs:

                http://efiles.portlandoregon.gov/Record/2687330/File/Document

                A further 14% was paid for by other land owners in the district. Only 15% of the costs were paid for by the city (via the PDC), and even then it was from funds that could only legally have been spent in the North Macadam Urban Renewal Area.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty September 28, 2016 at 11:37 am

                Thanks for the info. The terms seem better than I recall. Do you know if the 15% city contribution included any infrastructure upgrades (I recall there was a whole parcel of associated street work, but my memory is obviously not completely accurate).

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            Mike 2 September 28, 2016 at 8:11 am

            Thank you for your well thought out and detailed response. It’s much more appreciated than (paraphrasing) “you belong at a Trump rally.”

            I do not believe Portland is heading in the right direction, but I truly do appreciate your insight.

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    CaptainKarma September 27, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Is this path going to be free of entanglements, both legally and literally? Will those developments move to install gates to keep “those people” out? Will there be cutesy wrought iron furniture owned by private business, using public space, impeding the right to free passage?

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    Jeff September 27, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    The path is really not a critical piece of infrastructure at all, just to add some balance. There are already better ways on bike to get through this area and south. I’d prefer to see the time and money spent closing more important gaps, like getting south to Lake O.

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      Ed September 27, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      This is a critical piece of infrastructure. It creates a high quality north-south corridor through central Portland with no motor vehicle interactions or street crossings. This cannot come soon enough. It will provide transportation but also recreational benefits.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson September 27, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Check out the Willamette Greenway Trail on Swan Island through the Daimler NA campus where over 1000 engineers are designing the next generation of heavy duty trucks, and if you time it right, watch a barge launch at Gunderson across the River (Saturdays at 11 about every three months). Then head down The Captain’s Walk to the Vigor Marine’s Shipyards for a look at their ship repair and barge construction facilities. Last take Basin Avenue to The Waud Bluff Trail for a good view of Daimler’s Western Star truck plant (35 big rigs/day) and the drydocks at Vigor. Lot’s of stuff being built on Swan Island. see more at http://www.swanislandba.org

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      Sigma September 27, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      You’re wrong, Lenny. EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE.

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      Lester Burnham September 28, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Too bad bike access to Swan Island is still terrible with it’s “crossings of death”.

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      Mike 2 September 29, 2016 at 8:33 am

      You are correct – there are still some manufacturing jobs here in Portland. Hopefully the employees at Zidell can get moved over to Vigor, or a similar fit, with a minimum disruption to their lives. Them and the hundreds of employees at Esco.

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