New waterfront housing project moves forward

The city has long promised a mix of income levels in the South Waterfront community

A view of the South Waterfront in Portland, provided by Zidell on Dec. 10, 2014 (Bruce Forster Photography)
A view of the South Waterfront in Portland, provided by Zidell on Dec. 10, 2014 (Bruce Forster Photography)

 

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — The Zidell family’s once-polluted industrial land on the downtown waterfront could blossom into a major residential and employment complex, under a development agreement heading for Portland City Council approval.

In a deal blessed last Wednesday by the Portland Development Commission board, the city would provide tens of millions of dollars for a new access road, riverfront greenway, park, low-income apartments and storm drainage. The Zidell family would pay $35 million to share some of those costs, plus another $210 million to develop 1.5 million square feet of residential and commercial buildings.

Ultimately, the 30-acre site mostly north of the Ross Island Bridge could accommodate up to 2,500 jobs and 1,000 condos and apartments.
PDC leaders hailed the deal, which took five years of negotiations, as “historic” and “monumental.”

Final terms came after ZRZ Realty Co., which represents the Zidells, consented to sell the city land for about 200 affordable apartment units, one of the final sticking points.

“I want to thank the Zidells for getting that back — er, getting that in the agreement,” said PDC Commissioner John Mohlis.

The City Council expects to take up the 88-page development agreement on June 24.

The city has long promised a mix of income levels in the South Waterfront community, which has been heavily subsidized by urban renewal funds. But the city didn’t set aside land at the outset to meet its affordable housing goals there, and land prices skyrocketed as development flourished on the northern end of the North Macadam Urban Renewal District, near the aerial tram.

In recent months, affordable housing advocates doggedly pushed the PDC and Portland Housing Bureau to make good on those past promises by securing land from the Zidell family.

“I’m really happy to see people learn from mistakes we made in the past,” said Margaret Bax, one of those advocates, after terms of the development agreement emerged last week. “It is definitely encouraging and welcome progress.”

City outlays will come only after the Zidell family starts building there. That’s because city urban renewal funds to pay for infrastructure and affordable housing come from diverting property taxes collected on new development.

Under the deal, the Portland Housing Bureau must work with ZRZ to buy a site in an area near 3030 S.W. Moody St. Actual construction isn’t expected for several years.

In similar fashion, Portland Parks & Recreation must work with ZRZ to acquire a park site on its land. The PDC will put up $5 million, but the parks bureau must secure additional funds once the park is designed.

ZRZ expects to break ground on its first phase in 2017, putting up three buildings with 440,000 square feet of space. Building types will depend on market demand.

The bulk of construction is pegged for Phase 2, between 2018 to 2025, when Zidell projects it will add 1 million square feet of space.

More PDC funding could come during Phase 3, but terms are not spelled out in the development agreement because there might not be funds available.

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