Where We Live: South Waterfront development booms

South Waterfront is the largest economic development project in Portland's history

Condominiums gleam in the South Waterfront development. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The largest economic development project in Portland’s history, the South Waterfront, is an important part of where we live.

Wedged between I-5 and the Willamette River, the South Waterfront’s gleaming condominium towers, offices and OHSU medical facilities represent a $2.5 billion investment.

Envisioned to be the city’s second Pearl District, it’s one of the largest urban development projects in the country.

Just south of downtown, construction began in 2004 and was slowed by the recession several years later. The pace of growth is accelerating again, as OHSU builds more patient an cancer research facilities and more condos go up.

The area is also served by light rail and street car. The aerial tram just celebrated its 10 year anniversary.

“The tram is what bridges everything and makes it all work together,” Brett Dodson with OHSU tram operations tells KOIN 6 News.

There are 4,000 jobs in the area now and that number is expected to grow to 10,000 by 2020. With 5,000 condos and apartments, the area still needs more restaurants and retail but the city is working to improve access, which will bring more development.

“In the next four to five years, I think we’ll see it explode in terms of population down here,” Dodson says.

Homer Williams, known for developing the Pearl District, is a major developer of the South Waterfront. The Zidell Yards is expected to finish its last barge building project this year, clearing that site for more development.