Rockwood DIY gives platform for young artists

Our partners at MetroEast Community Media have been hard at work in their new DIY location, which is just steps away from the Rockwood Rising project site.  Slated to be anchor tenants in the project, MetroEast has already begun programming to provide rockwood Residents with access to digital literacy, media training, free and low-cost equipment, and much more.  As part of this programming, the MetroEast DIY studio hosted a free music video camp for neighbors aged 14-22.  Check a video summary with young artists Jordan Ribbon and Dajour McKinley:

Don't forget to check out Jordan and Dajour's official music video for Poloetic:

For more information about Rockwood DIY and future plans for the site, visit MetroEast at, or call at 503-667-8848. Stay tuned for more stories about the amazing art coming out of our neighborhood!

Join us September 9th!


The Rockwood CDC invites you to a day of food, fabric, and fashion celebrating Rockwood's wealth of culture and entrepreneurial spirit. Inside the Sunrise Center, located at 18901 E Burnside, see a sampling of pieces from new fashion lines created by Rockwood's very own up-and-coming designers.  Just outside, taste samples from Rockwood food makers, who bring recipes from around the world to the local food scene. This completely free event offers a chance to catch a glimpse of the exciting things happening among local small businesses.

Rockwood Rising staff will be present at this celebration, meeting with community members to answer questions and give updates on the progress of the Rockwood Rising project. Don't miss it!

Questions or comments?  Contact the Rockwood CDC at (503) 847-9163

You can always contact Rockwood Rising staff through, or by calling 503-618-3208

Take Our Vendor Survey!

Are you a Gresham-area business owner? Rockwood Rising, in partnership with ECONorthwest, is looking to document Gresham's unique business culture as we make plans for the project's market hall. Your input is important in shaping the future tenant structure of the market hall, and the business culture of Rockwood.

Follow this link to to make your voice heard!

¿Hablas español?

¡Aquí está nuestra encuesta en español!

Introducing our new Partners: August 2nd, 2017

Interested in opening or expanding your business as part of Rockwood Rising?  Project staff are proud to partner with Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO), who are now providing business assistance to Rockwood small businesses. MESO provides one-on-one coaching, business plan and licensing assistance, financial planning, and lending to new entrepreneurs, specializing in minority- and women-owned small businesses.  

For an introduction to MESO and all the services they provide, join us for an open house!

MESO Open House
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

478 SE 187th Ave

Portland, OR 97233
(Formerly Rockwood Community Police Office)

Enjoy refreshments from MESO clients, and network with other local businesses like yours!

Can't make it to the event? Gresham entrepreneurs are encouraged to stop by for drop-in office hours:

Tuesdays and Wednesdays
478 SE 187th Ave
(Formerly the Gresham Police Rockwood Community Office)
Portland, Or 97233

For more information, contact Carmin Madrid, MESO business development service provider, at or 360 857 8548

City planners consider finer points of 'Rockwood Rising' project

The plans for the Rockwood Rising Redevelopment Project are nearing completion and are open to the public.  Zane Sparling, of the Gresham Outlook, offers a breakdown of the design.

From The Gresham Outlook:

Gresham City Hall's ambitious plans to reshape the heart of Rockwood are nearly finalized.

All told, public leaders and private developers will plunk down at least $40 million to create the three-building development located between Burnside Road and the "Mohawk" MAX light-rail station at Stark Street and Southeast 188th Avenue.

As The Outlook previously reported, site designs call for commercial office space, residential apartments and an indoor/outdoor marketplace orbiting a central plaza.

The project, branded as "Rockwood Rising," sits on 5.15 acres that formerly housed west Gresham's Fred Meyer. The city's Redevelopment Commission purchased the land for $8.1 million in 2006.

At least 42 trees, as well as Plaza Del Sol, will be removed before construction begins. Read on for a complete breakdown of the blueprints

COURTESY RENDERING - Planners say future tenants of Bulding A, a four-story mixed-used office building, may have the capability of projecting live video or pictures onto the building's facade.

COURTESY RENDERING - Planners say future tenants of Bulding A, a four-story mixed-used office building, may have the capability of projecting live video or pictures onto the building's facade.

Building A

Nearly 60,000 square feet of office space is planned above ground-floor commercial in this four-story property. First story "micro retailers" will look out toward the plaza, while a more established anchor store is proposed to face Southeast 187th Avenue.

COURTESY RENDERING - Another view of Building A, which will offer roughly 60,000 square feet of office space when completed. 

COURTESY RENDERING - Another view of Building A, which will offer roughly 60,000 square feet of office space when completed. 

Worksource Oregon, an occupational training center and clearinghouse for help-wanted ads, has already committed to the wood-frame building. Planners are also considering a public gathering space with a double-height ceiling on the third floor.

Future tenants will likely have the ability to project images and video on the "rolling window wall" overlooking the semi-circle plaza, a capability that could be used to broadcast events happening inside.

Blueprints show a chic, cobalt-blue metallic facade with accents of charcoal-colored metal. Some renderings even hypothesize a "Rockwood Taproom" serving up brews to computer-generated patrons.


COURTESY RENDERING - Building B, a five-story, mixed-use apartment building with ground-floor retail, is shown here from a vantage point at the 'Mohawk' MAX light-rail stop on Burnside Street.

COURTESY RENDERING - Building B, a five-story, mixed-use apartment building with ground-floor retail, is shown here from a vantage point at the 'Mohawk' MAX light-rail stop on Burnside Street.

Building B

This five-story, mixed-use development would site street-level retail beneath 108 dwelling units with a healthy mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units planned.

Approximately 8,700-square-feet of retail space is cast as a community bank in renderings, while at least three other commercial areas have carve-outs estimated between 2,600 and 3,000 square feet.

A second-story "amenity deck" would feature BBQ and firepit space, plus communal tables, seating and grassy landscaped areas. Recessed balconies and jutting projections give the exterior a "cubby-hole" feel. Drawings show aquamarine walls accented with gunmetal grey sheeting.

Current blueprints would draw tenants to a central lobby and mail center facing the plaza. That caused some design commissioners to wonder if the building had a "missing entrance" on the side of the building facing Burnside Street and the Rockwood MAX station.

"Candidly, if I (couldn't find the entrance), I would just text: 'I'm on the side by the parking lot near the market hall,'" responded YBA Architects founder Matt Brown during a city meeting on Wednesday, April 19.

"I think that activating the plaza is really critical for this scheme," he continued.

COURTESY RENDERING - Patrons inside the proposed open-air marketplace stop for a quick sip of java.

COURTESY RENDERING - Patrons inside the proposed open-air marketplace stop for a quick sip of java.

Building C

This open-air, two-level structure would provide space for five or six local butchers, bakers and grocers, plus as many as 20 small-scale eateries.

A boardwalk perimeter will allow hungry patrons to stroll past outdoor purchase windows, while others will congregate at cash registers and mezzanine seating inside the building.

A basement level will be filled with roughly 10,000 square feet of leasable commercial kitchen space, plus 1,200 square feet dedicated to cold storage. A restaurant anchor is also planned.

Gresham officials have previously stated their intention to fill all commercial berths without the help of major chains.

COURTESY RENDERING - Another computer-generated rendering shows pedestrians strolling through the Rockwood Rising plaza.

COURTESY RENDERING - Another computer-generated rendering shows pedestrians strolling through the Rockwood Rising plaza.

Parks, plazas, parking

Envisioned as a bustling square filled with street musicians, pedestrians and shoppers, planners say the skylit plaza will serve as the true focal point of the development.

Three children's play areas are included in designs alongside a "splash pad" water feature. Fixed seating will rest on concrete pavers. The design of a central painted emblem in the plaza has yet to be determined.

COURTESY RENDERING - One final view of the Rockwood Rising public plaza.

COURTESY RENDERING - One final view of the Rockwood Rising public plaza.

So-called "micro parks" with additional landscaping and fixed seating are planned for the north and southwest corners of the site, though the architects would prefer to lure passersby into the central plaza instead.

"If too many seating opportunities are provided — because of the fact that they won't have immediately adjacent active uses — that could attract undesirable uses and users," noted Brown, the YBA architect.

Three parking areas are proposed, each with frontage on Southeast 185th Avenue on the far east side of the development.

A central lot offers 37 stalls, while a 109-slot lot to the north and a 29-spot lot to the south have both been identified as possible pads for future development.

If a second phase of construction does come to pass, builders will be faced with a tough and slightly ironic dilemma: no parking.

Underground parking is one possibility, but digging down into the aptly-named Rockwood soil doesn't seem feasible to staffers at city hall.

"(Unless) you want boulders next to your car, I would imagine it would have to be an aboveground structure," joked Associate Planner Josh Williams. "They may not get as much development as they were hoping for, unless parking magically disappears as a need because we're all driving automated cars."

Join us Saturday, April 1

This Saturday, April 1, 2017, marks another opportunity for community members to learn and participate in the Rockwood Rising project.  In conjunction with our partners at the Rockwood Community Development Corporation (Rockwood CDC), Rockwood Rising staff are helping to host an International Food Fair and Tempeh Celebration.

Participants will be able to sample food from local vendors, several of whom hope to be tenants in the new development.  Many of these vendors will be sharing new recipes that revolve around tempeh, a fermented soy-based protein source that is common in many Indonesian dishes.  Enjoy the many different varieties of this superfood, and get a taste of what Rockwood restaurants might look like in the future.

Matt Brown of YBA Architects will also be onsite, to present and share about the most recent renderings of Rockwood Rising's design.  Come and learn about the evolution of the design, and about the next steps of the development process.

Most importantly, attendees of this event will be able to complete surveys and make comments on the design so far.  Community engagement is part of the foundation of this project, and has already been used to heavily influence the project's design and programming.  Let your voice be heard, and see how the community has already shaped the process.

Join us

Saturday, April 1, 2017 from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

At the Sunrise Center: 18901 E Burnside St. Portland, OR 97233

For more information, email

Rockwood DIY Launches Pilot Computer Class


MetroEast Community Media, our partner and future tenant of Rockwood Rising, has begun services to the Rockwood neighborhood just a few yards away from the development site. Their first class, a computer course in email, typing, internet basics, and beginning social media, launched this month with 16 participants.  The members of the class are from the Rockwood community, and will each receive a complimentary laptop computer from Free Geek upon completion of the five-week course.

To see MetroEast Community Media's summary of their first classes, click below:

MetroEast has served the East Multnomah County community for more than 30 years.  For more information on the wide variety of media services they provide, as well as the new opportunities they will offer, visit the MetroEast Website.

Community participates in Rockwood Rising design

On October 15th, 2016, members of the Rockwood community had the opportunity to share in the project's design, as part of an activity with Brown and YBA architects. Participants gave feedback on existing design elements, and provided examples of new designs they found essential to the Rockwood neighborhood.

Staff and partners in the Rockwood Rising Project place a high value placed on community ownership.   Architect Matt Brown, in presenting the schematic design, called the future development site "a real civic space. A space for everyone, that belongs to everyone, and is reserved for no one."

Watch the video summary of this activity below:

The design activity was part of the larger Walk, Talk & Eat event, in which community members gathered to sample and give feedback on the project's future food vendors.  These vendors are local entrepreneurs, many of whom will be tenants in the project's Catalyst Site. Over 100 guests enjoyed food from 12 different vendors and celebrated Rockwood's rich culture.  Watch the video recap below:

For upcoming events and more ways to take ownership in this project, be sure to sign up for the Rockwood Rising Newsletter by emailing


Unique factors may be driving real estate investment decisions in Portland's suburbs

Excerpt from The Portland Business Journal:

Guest columnist Alisa Pyszka on how a community's story and its walkability can help meet the needs of citizens, employers and investors.

Recently, the Urban Land Institute hosted a great webinar regarding national forecasts for the economy and real estate.

...When a community can define what it is, where it wants to go and how it will get there, a story emerges.

And for the real estate world, this story is important if you want to attract investments.

One of the best stories I have seen lately is by the city of Gresham. They are very focused on enhancing a challenging area: the Rockwood community, a diverse neighborhood within the city. After numerous plans and development concepts over the years, they have honed in on a compelling project by meeting the needs of the community through access to food and entrepreneurship ( Rockwood Rising ). In addition, their public investments appropriately focus on creating a walkable area that connects to the surrounding areas...

Read the full story here

Two properties added to Rockwood Catalyst Site

By Christopher Keizur

From The Gresham Outlook

The Gresham Redevelopment Commission unanimously approved a proposal at its Tuesday, Sept. 6, meeting to acquire two more locations to develop for the Rockwood Rising Catalyst Site, envisioned as a new commercial and cultural hub at 187th Avenue and Stark Street.

“This is wonderful, a part of our city that is upcoming,” Commissioner Mario Palmero said. “I’m sure the people of Rockwood and West Gresham are very excited about this.”

Read the full story:


Share Your Favorite Recipe

Rockwood has a food scene that is rich with tradition, culture, and flavor. In our neighborhood, cooking and eating create real opportunities to connect with people, and the recipes we use connect us to the stories that help shape who we are.

If you are one of the many Rockwood-West Gresham residents with a dish and a story to share, you are invited to participate in the Rockwood Food Stories Recipe Project. This compilation of recipes and the stories that surround them will be a way to share Rockwood's special, vibrant food culture with the world.  

To participate, submit your recipe and a few sentences describing its significance to you.  Full details about the project, including online submission forms and a chance to win a $250 gift card, are available on the Rockwood Food Stories webpage, linked here.  You can also call the City of Gresham Communications Division with any questions or concerns at 503-618-2150. 

We look forward to hearing your story!

New Open School East Designed for College Preperation

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Principal Matt Ross explains how the new Open School East building reinforces the school's mission of preparing students to succeed in college. 

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Principal Matt Ross explains how the new Open School East building reinforces the school's mission of preparing students to succeed in college. 

From The Gresham Outlook

Written by Teresa Carson

Open School East, an alternative school in Gresham, just welcomed the first students into a shiny new building on a community campus that will also include a new Boys & Girls Club.

A college-prep school for students who have struggled to succeed in regular public school, Open School East has taken up residence in a new, warm, light-filled building that reinforces the school’s mission of inspiring students to overcome obstacles and succeed in higher education.

About 65 percent of Open School East students are children of color and about 85 percent live in poverty. East has a middle school partner in Open School North in North Portland. The school says students advance an average of 2.5 grade levels in math and reading in their first year at Open School East.

There is a new leader for the new building in Principal Matt Ross. He strolls though the building and calls out students by name, whether it’s to gently chide a student for running in the hall or compliment another on good work.

Open School East takes a different approach than a traditional, comprehensive high school.

“We have small class sizes, two adults in every class and focus on social justice and wrap around services,” Ross said, adding the school wants to prepare students not just to go to college, but be successful in the college environment.

Open School East has 135 students in grades seven through nine. It will eventually house about 270 students in grades seven through 12, with a grade scheduled to be added every year.

The new building is anchored by a two-story atrium with stadium seating crafted from warm, reclaimed wood. The seating faces a two-story white board wall that can be used as a blackboard, movie screen or backdrop for lectures.

Ross said the atrium seating “allows us to come together as a community.”

Dave Otte, principal with Holst Architecture, Portland, who designed Open School East and the Boys & Girls Club, said, “We wanted to make it open, simple and flexible and to last for years.”

The architecture reinforces the school’s mission. Inspirational quotes punctuate the building, such as one from the late actor, Christopher Reeve: “A hero is an ordinary person who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

Ross noted, “We’re trying to counter the not-so-motivational messages kids get on social media and from society.”

A large black-and-white portrait of a hero of a social justice movement graces the doorway of each classroom. African-American author James Baldwin is at one doorway, Cesar Chavez adorns another. The school’s white walls and wood are accented with a bright, lime green throughout the building.

The four corners of the structure have study nooks with floor-to-ceiling windows and are furnished with soft, grey ottoman stools. Ross said these nooks can be used for small-group instruction, individual tutoring or small staff meetings.

“The nooks also create visual fissures between the classrooms,” architect Otte said.

Ross said the space is designed to look less like a traditional high school and more like a college, to further Open School’s mission to prepare students for higher education.

The snazzy new building is at 16519 S.E. Stark St. Last year, Open School East operated out of Oliver Elementary School, 15840 S.E. Taylor St., in the Centennial School District with only seventh and eighth grades. The new school has chemistry and biology labs, which are still being set up. Those classes won’t be taught until the students reach high school.

Open School has a long history in the Portland area dating back to the 1970s. It has had multiple iterations and was called Open Meadow School.

Otte said the Boys & Girls Club will look different, but complement Open School East. Both will use brick and warm woods. The single accent paint color at Boys & Girls Club will be an ocher or yellowish color.

The school will borrow the Boys & Girls Club kitchen and gym.

“There will be a symbiotic relationship” between the two buildings and organizations, Otte said.

Open School East draws students from Centennial, Gresham-Barlow, Reynolds, David Douglas, Parkrose and Portland Public school districts. It is organized as a state-designated alternative school and is not a charter school.

“We do school a little differently,” Ross said. 

Read more here:


New Rockwood Boys & Girls Club Breaks Ground

Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro Breaks Ground at New Club in Rockwood

On July 21st, Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro (BGCP) held a groundbreaking ceremony at its new site in the Rockwood neighborhood of Gresham. Community and business leaders, Club staff and families joined together to hear about the vision for the new facility and helped put the first shovels in the ground. Gresham’s Mayor Shane Bemis, Oregon State Senator Laurie Monnes-Anderson, Oregon State Representative Carla Piluso, and a representative from US Senator Ron Wyden’s office were on hand to speak to the value a Boys & Girls Club brings to the community and its youth.

Former Police Activities League Center (PAL) youth, Chelsey Francis, and former PAL staff member, Mathias Mauk, spoke about the void left in that community when the Center closed and the community’s excitement for the new Club. BGCP’s 2015 Youth of the Year, Bryan Gastelum Plata participated in the program and shared the positive role the Clubs have played in his and his family’s life.


See more at:


The new Club will be located in the center of the Rockwood neighborhood at the corner of southeast 165th and Stark Street. Open School East is building on the site and will be complete this summer. Open School will share the Club’s gym and kitchen facilities. New Avenues for Youth will lease space in the Club. The ultimate vision will include a campus of youth services to provide a unique collaboration of much needed wrap-around services for kids and families’ ages zero to adult. 

“This campus of services,  including Friends of the Children just blocks away, will provide a valuable continuum of coordinated services so no child falls through the cracks,” said Erin Hubert, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro.

BGCP’s Catalyst Campaign for Rockwood is an $11.6 million effort created with three intentional priorities to include $9.4m to construct the new Club facility, $1m to endow a maintenance reserve that will ensure the facility will continue to function optimally for years to come, and an additional $1.2m for operations, which is equal to three years of operational capacity for new the Club. Early supporters of the campaign include the State of Oregon, the Bill & Ann Swindells Charitable Trust, Precision Castparts, Nike, The Epping Family Foundation, The Johnson Charitable Trust, The Collins Foundation and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, the Oregon Community Foundation, the Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation, Fred Meyer, The Standard, and the Comcast Foundation.

If you’d like to support the project or learn more, please visit our Catalyst Campaign site.