The Port of Ridgefield is preparing to start planning the development of the Lake River waterfront next year.
The port’s business plan for the 41-acre waterfront was finalized Oct. 11, according to a release from the district, Oct. 31. The port’s Board of Commissioners approved a public comment period for the plan, Sept. 13, with the port receiving more than 50 public comments on the draft plan, according to a news release.
The 74-page plan details the port’s vision for the area and the types of development the 41-acre site will see. Leland Consulting Group worked on the plan for 10 months with regular check-ins with commissioners along the way, port CEO Randy Mueller said in a September interview.
“Our Waterfront Business Plan is built on the feedback we received from our community during a strong community engagement effort in 2022 and public engagement and input this fall,” Mueller said in the release. “It considers our community’s priorities, Port priorities and capabilities and market realities, and provides a guide for developers to help us achieve the shared vision of a waterfront that generates economic, social and environmental benefits for Ridgefield and the region.”
The plan divides up where businesses could be located with “craft industrial” businesses on one side and restaurants, lodging and “destination retail” closer to the center of the area. The plan also has designs to bring port offices back to the western side of the train tracks, following the movement of those offices earlier this year.
With the plan finalized, the port now begins to find a development team to execute it. The business plan recommends proceeding with a “master developer,” as opposed to a number of single developers for the waterfront, which Mueller previously said was an attempt for greater consistency in how the area builds up. A large project, like working over the full waterfront area could be a draw for developers, he said at the time.
According to the release, the port will put out the first feelers for development teams by the end of this year, after which they’ll make a final choice for the work.
Alongside the business plan, the port is also working on a waterfront park, the release stated. The port set aside eight acres of land along Lake River for a public park, separated by an existing path from where economic development is planned.
That park is planned to be developed in cooperation with the city of Ridgefield. Last week, the city approved an agreement to work with the port on engineering, design and construction projects that would benefit both agencies.
The agreement allows one agency to take the lead on a project with the others involved being billed later, Ridgefield Finance Director Kirk Johnson said during the Nov. 2 meeting, where the council approved the agreement. The city has partnered with Clark Regional Wastewater District on numerous occasions, Johnson said. The initial term for the agreement lasts five years, though it’s automatically set to increase over 10 more years without intervention.
“It just adds cost efficiencies and savings in projects,” Johnson said.
Information about the waterfront business plan is available at portridgefield.org/ridgefield-waterfront.