For the first time in 150 years, Oregonians have the opportunity to rediscover a cultural and scenic treasure: Willamette Falls.
A public vision and master plan have taken shape, with the goal of transforming a 23-acre industrial site nestled along the Falls in historic Oregon City. This former paper mill could someday serve as an economic engine, a waterfront destination, a unique habitat, a window into Oregon’s past – and a bold step into our future.
Whatever develops on the landscape will be shaped by Willamette Falls, roaring in the Willamette River below. The largest waterfall in the Pacific Northwest, it was long an important cultural and gathering place for Native American tribes. The Oregon Trail ended here. And throughout the 1800s, the Falls made history by generating energy for Oregon’s early industries and cities and fueling the nation’s first long-distance electrical power transmission. That industrial legacy ended in 2011, when the Blue Heron Paper Co. closed its doors – the last in a succession of businesses that contributed to Oregon City’s strong working waterfront.
The Framework Master Plan solidifies the community’s and owner’s vision and clears barriers to redevelopment. It gives the owner flexibility to build everything from hotels to health clubs, museums to markets, offices to light industrial buildings. The Plan ensures that development reflects and respects the site’s natural setting and industrial history, makes it easy to walk and bike, and blends in with downtown Oregon City, while creating a unique sense of place in the new waterfront district. It also ensures healthy habitat along the Willamette River and preservation of key historic structures when it’s feasible—and when it’s not, incorporation of artifacts into the design.
The new site owner, George Heidgerken and his team at Falls Legacy LLC, have worked closely with staff to move forward with the Master Plan. The Plan was approved in November 2014 by the Oregon City Commission. Together, Oregonians can continue to shape how the area is transformed for economic redevelopment, public access, healthy habitat, and historical and cultural interpretation.
Visit the official project website at: www.rediscoverthefalls.com