Regional Investments for Smart Communities: Harnessing Transit + Technology to strengthen the Economy and connect the McLoughlin Corridor
Please see the“McLoughlin Corridor” project website at https://blogs.uoregon.edu/mcloughlincorridor/
Since 1991 ISOCARP has organized – along with the annual congress – the Young Planning Professionals’ workshop, intended to stimulate the professional interests and the development of planning skills of the youngest members of the planners’ family. According to this tradition, the YPP workshop was offered again during the 53rd ISOCARP congress in Portland, OR, USA between 20 and 23 October. The workshop was organized in partnership with Oregon Chapter, American Planning Association, Portland Metro Government as well as University of Oregon.
THEME OF THE WORKSHOP
The Portland Metropolitan Area is at present populated by 1.5 million people who live in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties and 25 cities. Policies guiding growth and investment within this area are developed by Metro, the regional government, which provides planning and other services that protect the nature and livability of the region. Its long range vision, identified in the 2040 Growth Concept, calls for compact urban form, with new development focused in existing urbanized areas. As the Portland region grows, many of the issues that larger cities have been experiencing—such as affordable housing, community and business displacement, and inclusive growth— are rising to the forefront of public concern. Project partners aim to address these concerns by working with the community to ensure that major public investments in transit, transportation innovations, and other forms of infrastructure such as technology and communications investments are leveraged in a way that supports community development objectives, addresses existing inequities, and reduces associated impacts and risks of reduced affordability and displacement due to increased land values.
As one of Metro’s identified Investment Areas, the McLoughlin Corridor is one of the places at risk to development pressures and increased regional growth. McLoughlin Boulevard is one of the region’s most important thoroughfares that serves as an artery of commerce and it connects Portland to five cities in Clackamas County (Milwaukie, Oak Grove, Jennings Lodge, Gladstone, and Oregon City). The MAX Orange Line light rail recently began operation in the northern end of the corridor, terminating at SE Park Ave Station Area in an area with redevelopment opportunities within the City of Milwaukie. Numerous planning efforts have been finalized for large stretches south of the line in the last 5-10 years, but more work will be needed. The corridor has inherited multiple vacant properties that once served as major industrial operations, gas stations, auto repair shops, and other businesses that used petroleum-related chemicals with real or perceived brownfield contamination that inhibits their development potential. Metro partnered with Clackamas County and Oregon City on an EPA Brownfield Coalition Assessment Grant for the area, and has already started the process of identifying sites for assessment and future remediation. The State and Region have also invested in the Willamette Falls Legacy Project; a public vision and master plan with the goal of transforming a 23-acre, abandoned paper mill on the banks of the Willamette River in historic Oregon City. Willamette Falls is the 2nd largest waterfall by volume in North America, the end of the Oregon Trail, and an historic fishery for Native Americans. Final designs are complete for a new Riverwalk that provides Oregonians and visitors with the opportunity to rediscover this cultural and scenic treasure for the first time in 150 years.
Of particular interest to the regional government, was how future transit connections/extensions and infrastructure investments may leverage the many opportunity sites along this corridor. The Metro Regional Framework Plan calls for all Regional Centers to be connected to the High Capacity Transit (HCT) system as part of the implementation of the 2040 Growth Concept. Oregon City is one of the last designated Regional Centers in the 2040 Growth Concept that is not accessible by HCT.
Therefore, starting at Park Avenue Station and along the Orange Line MAX, the Young Planning Professionals team explored:
- what HCT could mean for the corridor and the unique communities that exist along it?
- what other investments should be made to support the multiple proposals underway in the corridor?
- How do we harness transit and other investments to strengthen and connect this corridor in support of regional objectives for equitable development?
- What are the market realities behind these visions and what is the corridor’s true potential?
Opportunity sites can be found at many locations, but of particular interest to Metro and local partners were the following:
- Park Avenue Station – the location is a fantastic opportunity to think through the right type of Transit-Oriented Development that would enhance the surrounding community and bring vitality to the end of the MAX line
- Willamette Falls site – with the recent release of Phase I of the Riverwalk design effort, there is a real opportunity to explore the connection between Downtown Oregon City and the future public access
- North Milwaukie Industrial Area – with a recently completed plan for the area, several opportunity sites exist to explore local and regional employment needs.
Within the framework of the workshop, the Young Planning Professionals – coming from places with different planning cultures and backgrounds – were asked to investigate the future of these three sites. The group was subdivided into teams, each working on one of the above mentioned areas. The main task of each of those was to investigate how the spatial structure of the selected sites may be shaped, taking into account Metro’s plans and policies, contemporary concepts of sustainable and smart urbanism, as well as to what extend the economic development potential of these may be utilized in line with community expectations.
The teams of Young Planning Professionals were guided by three tutors:
- Lorraine Gonzales, USA
- Milena Ivkovic, Netherlands
- Michael Stott, Canada.
ISOCARP Vice President YPPs:
Piotr Lorens, Poland.
In general: YPP workshops aim to provide young planners with the principles and practices of effective contemporary urbanism and practical knowledge. The workshops are intended to stimulate the professional interests and the development of planning skills of younger planners.
The objective of the workshops is to provide the workshop participants with hands-on practical experiences. YPPs work in a studio setting under the guidance of international experts from among the members of ISOCARP as well as local experts.
Next to the YPP workshops organised on the occasion of a congress, ISOCARP has been organising national YPP workshops for a few years now. Several of them were held in China, Russia and Poland.