Port of Ridgefield expands waterfront development

With a business plan in place, the Port of Ridgefield is ready to continue developing its waterfront property. On Oct. 11, the port finalized a waterfront business plan prepared by Leland Consulting Group in Portland.

Randy Mueller, the port’s general manager, said it took considerable time and effort to complete the business plan.

Mueller said it took our consulting team about nine months to develop the waterfront redevelopment plan. It was about planning different elements and matching them to each other, balancing the applications.

The waterfront property is located along the Lake River, which connects to Lake Vancouver to the south and the Columbia River to the north, and is adjacent to downtown Ridgefield. The Lake River flows through the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, one of the city’s main tourism drivers.

Port officials had wanted to continue rebuilding the waterfront for decades, but had to wait until cleanup of the old industrial site was completed and the Pioneer Street rail viaduct was built. After the viaduct opened in September 2021, the port began to analyze the development options for the property and what amenities residents expected.

Mueller said community and city feedback was taken into account when developing the business plan. Port priorities, market interest and the maintainability of the area were also taken into account. The 74-page plan includes the port’s goals, permitted/possible uses, community survey results, market analysis and development strategy.

Although port officials have been discussing how to redevelop the facility for years, Mueller said the business plan provides detailed information needed to move forward. He said these details allow them to see what will and won’t work with the property.

Years ago, we left open the idea that there could be office space. One of the things that has really come to light over the last year or so is that the market for office space for rent is currently very weak. There is no point in building office buildings for rent, Mueller said.

Mueller said the business plan actually identified a need for craft industrial spaces.

These are smaller industrial spaces where maybe they produce fishing rods, have a coffee roastery or brew beer, Mueller said. They don’t take up a lot of square feet, but they add a lot to the local business environment.

Mueller said the next steps would be divided into two phases. This winter, the port will release a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to evaluate and select qualified development teams. After completing this process, the port will issue a request for proposals and then select the best proposal for the development of the quay.

One of the things residents wanted to see on the waterfront was a new park. Mueller said work on the new park is already underway. Currently, the port and city are working together to evaluate and select a team to plan the park.

While there are no plans to expand the Mill Street boat ramp, Mueller said the port will add an overflow parking lot to reduce traffic congestion in the area during the busy summer months.

To read the full business plan, go to https://portridgefield.org/ridgefield-waterfront.

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