Creating Community On Former Riverfront Industrial Site
St. Helens, Oregon, is a growing community of over 13,000 people located 30 miles north of Portland. After years as an industrial hub, two wood product industries closed, leaving behind acres of brownfields abutting the Columbia River. The City of St. Helens (City) and its residents recognized the opportunity to reimagine the waterfront as a multi-use community asset and an RFQ was issued in late 2020 to begin the transformation with two projects: the South 1st and Strand Streets Road and Utility Enhancements and the St. Helens Riverwalk projects, both of which Otak will be working on.
The Otak team is leading the South 1st and Strand Street project and is a sub-consultant to Mayer/Reed for the Riverwalk project. As developers eye the riverfront location and offer visions for its future, the City and the Mayer/Reed-Otak team intend to address the transportation and infrastructure gap by connecting
the Columbia River Highway (OR 30) to the Riverfront District, as well as better connect pedestrians and bicyclists to existing roadways, trails, and the waterfront. The work will provide numerous road and utility enhancements and multimodal connections. Public water extensions and looping, sanitary sewer and storm drainage, and the relocation of the existing sanitary sewer lift station are all critical components that will help attract developers as the area begins to transition from industrial to mixed-use.
Running parallel with this project is the design and engineering of the St. Helens Riverwalk Project, which will include the design and construction of a boardwalk, overlook, and multi-use paths to maximize pedestrian connections. Mayer/Reed is leading this project overall, but Otak is managing the design for the replacement of an existing stage area with an amphitheater that can host community concerts and events and serve as a gathering area.
Representing Otak on both of these projects is Project Manager, Keith Buisman, and Project Coordinator, Mandy Flett. Otak has a single team working on both projects in tandem and the ability to coordinate a team in-house that has the wide array of skills and experience needed for the project was instrumental in being selected for this work. Every discipline in Otak is being tapped from planners to surveyors, architects to engineers. Revitalizing this riverfront aligns perfectly with Otak’s mission to create communities where people can live, work, and play.
“Planners came in first and provided an idea of what could be done with the parcels and how to lay them out for future development,” Mandy says.
The utility and roadway design and the design for gateways and pedestrian facilities are underway and expected to be completed this coming fall. Construction management will then follow and is tentatively scheduled to wrap up in 2023.
“Our work is to create a sense of ‘there’ in a town that has so much potential. We want to make it a destination for those who live there and also for visitors. When you enter the City, the river draws you in and we want to take advantage of that,” Mandy comments.