The Zidell Marine barge-building company is about to completely redevelop and redesign one of the remaining industrial districts, a 30-acre riverfront parcel near South Waterfont in South Portland. The property is called Zidell Yards, and the company seeks to be a macro development comprised of many different micro-sized parts: an urban space of peaceful greenery, or a park disguised as a vibrant city.
Both South Waterfront and Zidell Yards are long, thin strips of land with the river to the East and Interstate 5 to the West. Public transportation is readily available in this area, and this makes redevelopment of this real estate a great opportunity for the city to thrive even further. The freeway is near, as well as the light rail and street car, not to mention the river itself and a new pedestrian bridge over I-5. Zidell Yards will become “a diverse crossroads, be it of transit modes, of people, or of the ongoing industrial history of this land with a higher-technology future,” according to Brian Libby of The Atlantic Cities.
The designers of Zidell Yards are ZGF Architects, and their plan is to change the city’s relationship with the Willamette River by bisecting it down the middle. Now that the city has spent more than a decade cleaning up the Willamette, what better time to add a beach or a floating swimming-pool barge? The plan for Zidell Yards diverts from Portland’s standard grid, with streets curving in parallel to the river. ZGF has introduced the idea of bringing the water and greenspaces further inland to filter stormwater before going into the river and to give the neighborhood a higher ratio of greenery to concrete.
A focal point will also be the land directly underneath the Ross Island Bridge. The Zidell Yards have already attracted the attention of Portland area’s Fortune 500 company, Nike, which has run out of room at its Beaverton campus. However, Zidell Yards is supposed to be about more than attracting corporate tenants. It will be a garden and a place of tranquility for Portland travelers.