South Waterfront Neighborhood in Portland, Oregon
A perfect image of South Waterfront
Driving into the South Waterfront District in SW Portland, all of my preconceived notions on the sustainability of the neighborhood were completely met. As the tram was taking off from the bottom of the hill up to OHSU, the Portland Streetcar was pulling in from downtown as bikers came up on the right side of the road in their lane and runners with Hood to Coast shirts from past years flew by on the opposite sidewalk. I felt a little bit out of place, driving in my ’97 Toyota Rav 4. And then looking up I see more runners in the large window of the March Wellness and Fitness Center that boasts the neighborhood’s healthy lifestyle and mindset. South Waterfront offers high quality living with a sustainable and innovative kick to it.
Location & Transportation
South Waterfront is located in southwest Portland, along the border of the Willamette River, just south of downtown. Downtown is easily accessible by bike or the Portland Streetcar which is a transportation staple of South Waterfront. Other modes of transportation in South Waterfront are the Portland Aerial Tram, Tri-met bus, Zipcar and Carpool Match NW.
The neighborhood consists of a wide variety of people including young families, 30-something professionals and older couples. Everyone is very active in the neighborhood as runners, bikers and dog walkers pound the pavement of the sidewalks. South Waterfront is very walker friendly with many crosswalks, wide sidewalks, tamed speed limit for cars so it’s safe for pedestrians and bikers, while the layout is fairly compact and centralized around the green spaces. The neighborhood is still gaining popularity and isn’t as well-established as other older Portland neighborhoods, but it has the capacity to be as popular and thriving as the Pearl District and the Brewery Blocks. South Waterfront came to be by some extremely innovative thinkers who grabbed inspiration from places like Vancouver B.C. with its point towers of all glass. And with innovative and creative minds comes a neighborhood that integrates “Alternative transportation, parks and trails, green building practices, mixed-use retail, and healthy living with art and design.” Sounds good to me.
Oregon’s First Green Neighborhood
South Waterfront is doing what no other Oregon neighborhood has done before, and that is creating a sustainable environment that saves energy and uses water conservation techniques to keep the impact on the environment as minimal as possible. They do this through several different means such as bioswales and ecoroofs. Throughout the neighborhood there are areas of gravel and vegetation that storm water runs through, which basically filters the water before it releases its contaminants into Willamette River and the ground. Ecoroofs essentially do the same thing, and before these two projects were developed none of the water was filtered while now 90% goes through these two modes of decontamination. Other innovative techniques used in the neighborhood are solar panels & Trombe Wall, LEED buildings (environmental certification), Indoor Air Quality, Sustainable Materials, Conservationi and Wildlife Restoration.
Photos of South Waterfront
While the neighborhood continues to develop in its construction and popularity, there are a few local businesses in the area that extend descriptions of South Waterfront as being active, community-oriented and growing. An employee at Rilassi Coffeehouse & Tea talks to me a little bit about the neighborhood and the people that come into Rilassi in a short video interview. With a great music selection, deliciously roasted coffee and a nice atmosphere, it’s a great spot for locals and people that work in the area to come and meet up for a cup of coffee. There are also a few restaurants in the neighborhood such as Bambuza Vietnam Grill, Le Hana Cafe and Daily Cafe @ the Tram.
Living & Real Estate
Living in South Waterfront is classy and innovative, as the neighborhood offers its residential towers up for locals to enjoy. The Meriwether, The John Ross, Atwater Place and The Ardea are a few of the residencies that locals vacate. With thoughtful design the towers were built to save energy through refracting light, helping save the planet and preserving views of constellations. With all very modern design and architecture, the residential towers are the epitome of high class living.
Parks and Trails
Elizabeth Caruthers Park is a beautiful 2-acre park settled in the center of the neighborhood. The layout of South Waterfront feeds out of the center of the park, revolving around it, creating a harmony of natural and urban life. With walking paths, a water fountain, modern art and a large green space for dogs to roam free as well as for community and public events such as movies in the park to take place, this park is where the locals unite and create a neighborhood-friendly vibe.
As well as the neighborhood’s park, the area has close access to Portland’s 40-mile loop and the Marquam Trail which offers over 140 miles of trails along the east and west sides of the Willamette River. And then the garden streets, river greenway and garden plaza are other ways that the neighborhood’s beauty flourishes through modern design, and healthy, eco-friendly practices.
Wrapping up South Waterfront
South Waterfront is the largest green development in the country, communicating Oregon’s livability to the nation. With upper class living in skyscrapers with million dollar views of the Pacific Northwest, this should be one of Portland’s most coveted neighborhoods.