Oregon City, OR. If you’ve dreamed of getting up-close and personal with Willamette Falls, like those in this artist’s rendering, you won’t have wait much longer. After years of planning and countless rounds of public input, the Willamette Falls Legacy Project has released the final concept design for a riverwalk located on the Oregon City side of the Willamette.

Willamette Falls Legacy Project Foundation supporters gathered on May 31st to hear from a team of architects who explained that the riverwalk will feature promenades along the river and pathways lofting through the former industrial site on the southern banks of the Willamette, adjacent to downtown Oregon City.

Plans for the riverwalk incorporate a number of existing structures still standing on the site, leftover from a century of industry.

The Willamette Falls Legacy Project is a collaborative partnership between Oregon City, Clackamas County, Metro and the State of Oregon. Carlotta Colette, Metro Councilor for District 2 calls the Willamette Falls Legacy Project one of Oregon’s most important public space projects. “It will give Oregonians and visitors an up-close experience of one the most beautiful and significant places in the state—a place that the general public has not been able to access for 150 years.”

Willamette Falls is the second largest waterfall in North America by volume and an important cultural site for Native American tribes, who have gathered, fished and traded there for millennia.

In 1889, Willamette Falls was the location of the country’s first long-distance electrical transmission, when electricity generated at the falls was used to power a string of electrical lights 14 miles away in Portland.

Settlers in Oregon City used the falls to power a series of industrial facilities, including woolen, flour and paper mills. After the Blue Heron paper mill closed in 2011, Metro, Oregon City, Clackamas County and the State of Oregon formed the Willamette Falls Legacy Project to create a public riverwalk for people to view Willamette Falls. It will be built on a portion of the 22-acre site, and planners want to establish a public-private strategy to spur redevelopment of the entire site, which is privately owned by Falls Legacy LLC.

Since 2013, the Willamette Falls Legacy Project has collected the input of thousands of community members from across the state in public meetings, events and surveys, using this feedback to guide a process that culminated in the unveiling of riverwalk design.

Groundbreaking and the start of construction for the riverwalk is expected to begin in 2018. Construction of Phase I of the riverwalk is expected to be completed in 2022.

“This is a game-changer for our community. We are opening up a spectacular place to people, and when they come, it will mean new opportunities for our businesses and residents.” —Oregon City Mayor Dan Holladay

The final concept designs will be available for public viewing Saturday, June 3rd, at OMSI at the Willamette Falls Riverwalk Design Celebration