West Linn introduces draft waterfront vision plan

Over the coming year the city of West Linn hopes to finalize its Waterfront Vision Plan, a draft version of which is now available online.

For several decades, the city of West Linn has considered revitalizing the area along the Willamette River waterfront on the southern edge of town. This plan is meant to be a culmination of those efforts, tied together with what the community wants for the area now and in the future.

At a recent meeting of the West Linn City Council, city planner John Floyd gave an update on the planning project, which has been an official priority of the council for the past several years.

“The goal of this Vision Plan is to present an inspired and achievable framework for the transformation of West Linn’s Waterfront into a vibrant place that provides new opportunities for residents and visitors to access and experience the natural beauty and cultural richness of the area,” the draft document states.

The planning area spans about 275 acres sandwiched between I-205 and the Willamette River, bookended by West Bridge Park just beneath the Abernethy Bridge and the old Blue Heron Mill settlement pond on Volpp Street.

“It’s a hidden part of West Linn and the goal of the project is to increase access to it and weave it back into city life,” Floyd said.

To carry out the vision, the city is also in the midst of turning the area into a tax increment financing district.

Because of the area’s varying and difficult topography, planners split it into three districts: the Historic City Hall district on the northeast end, the cultural heritage district — which contains Moore’s Island with its Portland General Electric facilities, the Willamette Falls Paper Mill and Willamette Falls itself — and lastly the pond redevelopment district, which is mostly covered by floodplain and wetlands at the moment.

The plan focuses on what these areas could hold — such as housing, hospitality, retail, parks and open space — and is meant to determine new land use zones for each district. Most of the area is currently zoned for general industrial, which only allows for a narrow range of uses.

Ideas mentioned in the vision plan include housing, a destination-specific hotel focused on Willamette Falls, parks, recreation-based business, a public plaza, viewing walkways, tribal specific spaces, a marina, a fishing dock and a brewpub that houses both production facilities and a pub.

Floyd said there are four values anchoring the plan: reinvestment opportunities, transportation improvements, river access and historic character.

He mentioned that the initial changes to the area will most likely be at Historic City Hall, where renovations are already underway, and at the former mill pond on Volpp Street where the property owner has applied for a land partition.

According to the timeline shown on the project website, planners will focus on refining the project, an economic assessment of the area and implementation strategies this spring. In the summer and into fall, the city hopes to establish its financing plan and officially adopt the vision plan. Floyd said public engagement will continue throughout the year and the council will hopefully adopt the plan in the fall.

Floyd mentioned that the city is working with many regional partners on the vision plan as other plans for the area are currently underway, like the Willamette Falls Trust’s Inter-tribal Public Access Project.

An open house for the project is set to run from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9, at the West Linn Public Library.


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