St. Helens Waterfront Area-Wide Planning

Client: City of St. Helens

Location: St. Helens, Oregon

About the Project

MFA is assisting the City of St. Helens, Oregon, in revitalizing over 215 acres of industrial waterfront property. The City engaged MFA to perform due diligence and evaluate redevelopment potential. MFA provided a full range of services to St. Helens and helped the City obtain over $250,000 for planning and technical studies. MFA led a multidisciplinary planning team tasked with evaluating market trends, infrastructure conditions, transportation systems, and environmental concerns in the waterfront planning area. The planning process included a significant community engagement effort.

Meet the Client

The City of St. Helens is situated about 28 miles northwest of Portland with a population of less than 15,000. St. Helens saw the closing of two of its major employers—a plywood veneer plant and a paper mill—between 2008 and 2012, resulting in the loss of approximately 900 jobs and leaving a large swath of waterfront property vacant. The properties have great potential for redevelopment but natural areas, inactive landfills, industrial contamination, and active business tenants contribute to the complex environment the city faces in attracting investment from public and private parties to redevelop its waterfront landscape.

Key Project Solutions 

MFA led a multidisciplinary planning team tasked with evaluating market trends, infrastructure conditions, transportation systems, and environmental concerns in the waterfront planning area.

MFA provided support to the City throughout the planning process, especially regarding effective stakeholder outreach. The planning process included stakeholder interviews, an advisory group, and community meetings. These meetings were well-attended and live streamed or published as recordings on the City’s social media channels to provide wider access to the information.

MFA assisted the City in obtaining Business Oregon funding and a USEPA Area-Wide Planning Grant to produce a framework plan for redevelopment of key waterfront properties, focusing on land uses, open space and public amenities, and new multimodal transportation connections. The plan includes an extensive implementation strategy that considers a range of financing options, such as urban renewal, as well as strategies for attracting public/private partnerships.

MFA is leading the City through a reuse feasibility study to determine the viability of filling the city’s wastewater lagoon near the Columbia River, providing more prime waterfront land for development. Our communications team is helping the city and the public engage in meaningful dialogue as they work together to determine the future of the St. Helens waterfront.

Our Thoughts

This is the kind of work you love to do on a project. The City is partnering with the state and its community to seek innovative ways to clean up its waterfront, capitalize on its assets, and build a community resource that will support the city and its residents for generations to come. It’s an exciting, collaborative process for a project that could be incredibly positive and life-changing for the community of St. Helens.

– Abbi Russell, Senior Communications & Outreach Specialist

Abbi Russell Communications Profile Photo

Get in Touch

Seth Otto, AICP, LEED AP

Senior Planner