The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, a federally recognized tribe in the State of Oregon, includes approximately 30 tribes and bands from western Oregon, northern California, and southwest Washington. In 2019, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde (“the Tribe”) purchased a 23.5-acre site adjacent to downtown Oregon City along the Willamette River at Willamette Falls. The site and Willamette Falls are an important location for the Grand Ronde Tribe. Once the ancestral homelands to the Charcowah Village of the Clowewalla (Willamette band of Tumwaters) and the Kosh-huk-shix Village of Clackamas people. The Tribe fished at the falls since time immemorial and maintained their connection even after removal to the Grand Ronde reservation.
The site became industrialized in the mid-1800s, most recently as the Blue Heron Paper Mill site, which included a large number of industrial structures. The Tribe aims to heal the land, restore access to the river and falls, and implement development to create a unique destination. Through a partnership with the Center for Creative Land Recycling and with support from the CRE® Foundation, the Consulting Corps was asked to bring its unbiased, objective perspective to assist the Tribe in planning its development.
In early February 2022, four Counselors and two representatives of the Center for Creative Land Recycling visited Oregon City, with one Consulting Corps team member participating remotely. The team toured Oregon City; reviewed existing data and studies; analyzed market data; considered best practices; interviewed more than 20 local stakeholders including elected and appointed officials, environmental and community groups, business representatives, and members of the development industry; and developed recommendations.
The team presented recommendations related to highest and best use of the site consistent with the Tribe’s mission and goals and provided guidance for addressing environmental remediation alongside development planning. The CRE team also noted trends in the marketplace that could enhance success.
The team was led by Gary DeClark, CRE, Chicago IL. Panelists were Cassandra Francis, CRE, Chicago, IL; Robert Greene, PhD, CRE; Mary Hashem, CRE, Denver, CO; and Al Victors, CRE, Reno, NV.
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