Rockwood Urban Renewal
The Significance of Rockwood
In the late 19th century, a stone marker was placed every mile east of the Portland Courthouse, thus creating “Baseline Road.” At the 10-mile mark, emerging from the deep woods and abundant rocks that suggested its name, Rockwood was born. It was formed and bounded by the basic north-south and east-west road junctions laid out by the surveyor general. Stagecoaches from Portland would routinely stop at the Ten-Mile Inn before continuing east to Twelve-Mile Inn (at what is now Northeast Stark Street and Northeast 223rd Avenue). And so, Rockwood quickly developed into the gateway to Gresham. A school, a grange hall, a church, a grocery and other integral businesses took root around this bustling junction. Then, in the early 20th century, speakeasies and roadhouses appeared, serving up chicken dinners and moonshine whiskey as staple fare. These rough-and-tumble establishments provided Gresham with much of its early character.
Rockwood serves as the western gateway to Gresham. It straddles the MAX line and forms the primary western approach to the city. As such, it is integral to shaping the impression of visitors who pass through it. Rockwood has a unique charter to provide quality jobs, commercial and housing opportunities for its residents, one reason why it has been designated as Gresham’s only urban renewal area. If realized, Rockwood’s growth and redevelopment potential will reverse the degradation of the area, making it a destination neighborhood of which the City of Gresham can be proud.
Rockwood Planning Background
Gresham annexed the Rockwood area in the mid-1980s. Since then, the City has undertaken several successful planning efforts, including the Central Rockwood Plan. The principal goal of this plan is to be a bold yet practical guide to long term area development. The plan was innovative for its time, as it required more urban development patterns. New construction is set to a two story minimum with no maximum height, and a mix of uses. New buildings are to embrace light rail and orient their face toward transit. A human-scale is sought to reinforce walking and community engagement.
Community Involvement Is Key
Rockwood community members were, and continue to be, key stakeholders in the ongoing planning and implementation. In 2003, as a result of a public desire for change, Gresham residents voted to designate Rockwood as an Urban Renewal Area for a 20-year period. The City completed the Rockwood Town Center Design and Redevelopment Plan in summer 2005, signaling the next exciting chapter in Rockwood development.