Boora Architects envisions mixed-use concept Water Avenue Yards for State-owned blocks in Central Eastside (images)

By Kurt Sevits.

Boora Architects have unveiled a conceptual plan for widespread redevelopment of several blocks of Portland’s Central Eastside Industrial District just north of the Hawthorne Bridge that for years have sat largely unused. Dubbed Water Avenue Yards, the project includes a range of mixed-use buildings, athletic fields and park space that would extend from Water Avenue west to the Willamette River.

Boora’s design isn’t the direct result of a call for proposals but rather the firm’s vision for what the area could be like in the future as the city mulls options for the land.

Water Avenue Yards

Water Avenue Yards would occupy three blocks along Water Avenue between Taylor and Madison streets. The land is currently owned by ODOT, but the City of Portland and the Portland Development Commission are exploring options to buy and redevelop portions of the land. ODOT intends to retain a little more than two acres of the land for future use, with the possibility of leasing those parcels out in the interim.

Boora envisions a series of low-rise light industrial buildings that could house flexible work space for industries for which Portland has become known, such as craft brewing and food production, as well as small-scale fabrication and other modern industries. Boora’s vision calls for 400,000 total square feet of space, in addition to below-grade parking for as many as 570 cars.

Water Avenue Yards

Water Avenue Yards

Water Avenue Yards

Extending under the interstate, the plan includes athletic and playground facilities, sport rentals, a beer garden, food carts and an outdoor performance space. Boora also suggests reconfiguring the waterfront to allow better access to the river.

The proposal puts a strong emphasis on public access and a pedestrian-friendly configuration that Boora suggests would be beneficial for Portland’s long-term livability. Rather than leave development of the parcels up to private companies, the architects argue a private-public collaboration with an eye for the future would better serve the area and the city as a whole.

Boora says it plans to present its concept to the City before it makes any major decisions about the future of the site. More information about the vision can be found at


5 thoughts on “Boora Architects envisions mixed-use concept Water Avenue Yards for State-owned blocks in Central Eastside (images)

  1. Interesting proposal from BOORA. The dystopian renderings are getting a little cliche now but looks like a thoughtful design. I do question how a public plaza would function under the I-5 overpasses though. The noise from those highways is completely overwhelming at the site and blocks sunlight. Having office or residential adjacent to them would also not be pleasant. The step down access to the river is very cool though. That would totally change the from a path into a destination.

    I also hold out hope that I-5 could someday be buried though the central eastside or even eliminated (with I-405 becoming the new I-5 route). Then we could truly reclaim the east bank of the river as a phenomenal urban space with much taller buildings. It seems like the revenue generated from the sale and property tax of this land would be enough to pay for burying or re-routing the highway.

    • I think you hit on the not-so-hidden benefit of the Central Eastside Industrial District redevelopment, i.e. the development of the waterfront. Your point about a phenomenal urban space and taller buildings, from which property tax and development revenues finance a relocation of the I-5 either underground or to the I-405 is a thoughtful one. I can foresee an underground I-5 beginning on the West side and continuing to rise up above ground near the Rose Garden. The I-405 would also benefit from a capping of the freeway and a massive buildout over the ensuing new area, albeit with buildings not as tall as those envisioned on the east side given the preexisting views of the residents of West Hills. Multistory structures would still be in play.

  2. Now that PDC owns portions of each of these three lots, has there been any info on the plans for these lots? They recently opened up parking on these lots which was very much needed (and being well used). I’m in the Waterman very near these lots and although I am excited about future possibilities, I am afraid they will likely not include parking and our parking problem will be back again.

  3. This concept is SO dope. There’s a lot to love here: from the the nod to the industrial roots of the area to the stepped waterfront access area…I hope the area ends up like this. There seems to be a thoughtful mix of commercial storefronts and public facilities that could really make this area much more interesting for locals and visitors alike. Bonus: wouldn’t it be amazing if the James Beard Market opened in this space? That’d make visiting OMSI even better—brain food and tummy food!

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