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Ross Island Sand & Gravel site up for sale, raising possibility of Springwater path connection

Posted by on August 11th, 2020 at 10:35 am

This orphan section of the Springwater Corridor path build in 2011, is just north of the Ross Island Sand & Gravel parcel that is now for sale.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

(Map: BikePortland/PortlandMaps)

A three-acre parcel on the Willamette River adjacent to the Springwater Corridor path is up for sale. If the property changes hands, it could hasten development of a key section of riverfront path that would bring us closer to filling the gap between the Eastbank Esplanade and the Springwater that currently forces a detour onto surface streets.

According to a sales brochure published by real estate company CBRE, the former Ross Island Sand & Gravel facility at 2611 SE 4th Avenue is being sold for $3.195 million. The listing boasts of access to public transit, riverfront views, and a “rare” large waterfront development site.

In early 2019 Ross Island Sand & Gravel owner RB Pamplin Corporation closed the company’s concrete division based at this location, laid off dozens of workers and sold off most of the equipment.

This is one of four properties on the riverfront between the end of the Eastbank Esplanade at the Portland Opera building and the Springwater Corridor path at the Ross Island Bridge. The City of Portland owns a trail easement on the riverfront, but has been unable to fully connect this 1,800 foot gap.

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(Left: Looking north toward OMSI on path adjacent to SK Northwest, just 400 feet away from end of Eastbank Esplanade. Right: A family navigates the surface street route currently in use today.)

In 2006 when another one of these four properties changed hands the owners fought tooth-and-nail against building the path. A 29-month legal battle ensued before watercraft retailer SK Northwest finally relented. In 2011, five years after the fight started, the company paved a section of the Springwater Corridor that currently sits as an unused island between two undeveloped parcels.

The SK Northwest path is about 350 feet. The Ross Island Sand & Gravel parcel would be another 600 feet. If the new owners built a path that would leave only about 850 feet remaining. Unfortunately one of the remaining parcels is owned by American Waterways, Inc., the parent company of Portland Spirit, a cruise boat operator that has been ardently opposed to building the path in the past.

If a buyer for the Sand & Gravel parcel steps forward they’ll face a lot of public pressure to build the path. Will it help topple the remaining two dominoes and get us a fully connected Esplanade-Springwater? Time will tell. We’ve got feelers out to Portland Parks & Recreation (they manage the paths) and the Bureau of Development Services to learn more. Stay tuned.

Screen grab of CBRE listing.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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dan
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dan

How is this area zoned these days? Is residential a possibility? If this becomes apartments or condos, it seems like getting the path through may become more likely.

Momo
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Momo

The Major Public Trails alignment in the Zoning Map goes straight through this site, so there hopefully is a nexus to require the trail connection.

Suburban
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Suburban

Stop Demolishing Old Portland! These structures represent a foundational piece of Portland history and should be preserved for future generations.
I do not mean transforming them into family -friendly brew -pubs. Architecturally significant is what they are. Sig Nificant.

carrythebanner
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I hope good things come of this, though the headline had me hoping that the property for sale was their lot by SE Holgate Blvd. That property is one of the best opportunities for re-establishing river access for the Brooklyn neighborhood, a project that has been punted for decades. In fact, there’s already a path there, it’s just a private RI S&G road that’s off-limits to the public.

More info: https://brooklyn-neighborhood.org/river-access/ (I’m the neighborhood association chair and familiar with the issue, AMA.)

Jason
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Jason

$3.2 mil, that’s cheap. Dirt cheap. 😐

Bikeninja
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Bikeninja

Does anyone know if they are pulling out because all the gravel on the Island is gone? Or is their some other business reason.

X
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X

If the city can find $3.2 million by any necessary means, we should buy it. Restore the riverfront with some public access, link the trail, and turn the rest into a jobs incubator aimed at diversifying the economy.

I’m still chewing on what that last bit would look like. If it could be done in the shell of existing structures, fine.

Why the city, you say? It seems likely the market is going to give us a tech beehive, or a brew pub/cannabis emporium, or some other thing that we already have a bunch of. Parking structure. Boutique hotel. The market goes with what worked before a lot of the time.

A trail might not seem like an economic asset but it is my strong belief that we should connect and enhance long stretches of bikeway where ever possible. This site has existing tendrils of grade seperated bikeway to the South and East (Springwater/Trolley), the North (Esplanade), and other incipient connections as well. A tiny fraction of the money that is proposed for the Rose Quarter freeway widening project would give our bikeway network a heart.

 
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I always wondered why the path detoured onto surface streets here. Hope they’re able to connect the two!

No Public Spirit
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No Public Spirit

Why does the Portland Spirit not have more public spirit? If they hate people in Portland so much that they’ll fight tooth and nail against the people’s access to the river, then maybe people should start opposing any and all permits/privileges they have or have to get to run their operation.