Rockwood Rising Breaks Ground

On the scorching afternoon of June 12, over 200 people gathered at the Rockwood Rising Catalyst Site to celebrate the project’s groundbreaking. Attendees enjoyed snow cones from a Kona Hawaiian Ice cart, speeches from the project’s key leaders, and a special limited-time run of Rockwood hoodies and tee-shirts.

Gresham City Council, with GRDC Executive Director Josh Fuhrer and County Commissioner Lori Stegmann, complete the ceremonial “first dig” at the groundbreaking celebration.

Gresham City Council, with GRDC Executive Director Josh Fuhrer and County Commissioner Lori Stegmann, complete the ceremonial “first dig” at the groundbreaking celebration.

The event was much more than just a ceremony. It was a celebration of the painstaking work of Rockwood Rising’s staff and partners since the project’s inception in 2013, and indeed since the creation of the Urban Renewal Area in 2003. Executive Director Josh Fuhrer addressed the crowds, as did Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis, Developer Roy Kim, County Commissioner Lori Stegmann, and Senator Laurie Monnes-Anderson.

Executive Director Josh Fuhrer at the Catalyst Site. Nearly empty for almost 15 years, this site will now house an economic engine in the heart of Rockwood.

Executive Director Josh Fuhrer at the Catalyst Site. Nearly empty for almost 15 years, this site will now house an economic engine in the heart of Rockwood.

Speakers focused on their hopes for the future of the neighborhood, and on the ways Rockwood Rising will contribute to excellent quality of life for Rockwood’s younger generations. Executive Director Josh Fuhrer noted, “This project represents a real milestone for this community that is resilient, that is creative, and that is steadfast in its commitment to this project and to its future.”

“I grew up here. I’ve owned a business here for over 25 years,” Commissioner Stegmann added, “and like many of you, I have put my heart and soul into making this a place that children and families can put down roots.”

View all keynote speeches from the groundbreaking celebration here.

Small businesses that work hard and know how to give back: that is the core of how you create a community that is enriching, meaningful to us, and…something we can give back to our children so that they can go off and thrive. That is the community that this will be, and that is the ultimate community that we can all create”

—Roy Kim, RKm Development

After keynote speeches and the ceremonial “dig,” which saw members of both the Gresham Redevelopment Commission and development partners at RKm turn over the first shovels of dirt, attendees gathered in the Rockwood Community Office to enjoy air conditioning, local refreshments provided by Don Pedro and Sugar Cubed, and the great work of countless community members and organizations.

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Guests were also able to pick up some Rockwood “swag” in the form of tee-shirts and hoodies, designed from community comments by our friends at Grafletics, Inc. June 12th also launched a 30-day fundraiser wherein each tee-shirt sold would generate one free Rockwood tee for a child at the Rockwood Boys and Girls club. In all, over 130 shirts were purchased through the fundraiser, meaning 130 new, donated shirts for Rockwood kids.

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To learn more about this day of celebration, read the article published in the Gresham Outlook!

Groundbreaking is just the beginning. Make sure to visit the Updates page, and follow the City of Gresham on Facebook and Instagram to hear about all the upcoming ways to celebrate the project.

The Rockwood Rising project is a public-private partnership designed to build an economic engine in the heart of our neighborhood. For more information email us at or call 503-618-3208.

Rockwood T-Shirts Return

After the great success of our Rock the Block neighborhood celebration, we heard dozens of neighborhood comments regarding the Rockwood t-shirts. These t-shirts were created through a collaborative process with Grafletics, Inc., the Urban Renewal Staff, and input given by Rockwood community members like you.

Now, in celebration of groundbreaking for the Rockwood Rising Project, Grafletics will be offering Rockwood-logo t-shirts for a limited time following the June 12 groundbreaking ceremony! This line of Rockwood-logo shirts will be available only for these few weeks, and for each item purchased Grafletics will donate one free shirt to a student at The Boys and Girls Club in Rockwood.

Help spread the word, celebrate the neighborhood, and donate to our neighborhood kids. Grab yours here!

Photo courtesy of POIC + RAHS

Photo courtesy of POIC + RAHS

The Story Behind the Logo

In the fall of 2017, our friends at Grafletics, Inc. hosted a brainstorming session inside the Sunrise Center on East Burnside, to gather input from Rockwood residents about what kind of image they’d like to see representing their neighborhood. The result pays homage to Rockwood’s MAX line, the Plaza del Sol, and the strong bonds that community members have with one another.

Rockwood Logo and Description.PNG

The logo made its preliminary launch at Rock the Block 2018, where it was given out to attendees on free stickers and t-shirts. The community response was overwhelmingly positive, and all 500 t-shirts were given out within the first few hours of the event.

Photo courtesy of POIC+RAHS

Photo courtesy of POIC+RAHS

Since many community members were unable to get a t-shirt, Grafletics has made them available on their website until June 30, 2019. Join us in rocking our Rockwood shirts!

The Rockwood Rising project is a public-private partnership designed to build an economic engine in the heart of our neighborhood. For more information email us at or call 503-618-3208.

Now Available! The Rockwood Community Cookbook

Order your hard copy or e-book today!

Rockwood’s delicious food scene is celebrated in the beautiful new cookbook, “Food Stories: The Rockwood Community Cookbook.”

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The recipes feature food traditions across the globe and right here at home. Many of the cookbook’s recipes were passed on from generation to generation but had never been written down before.

All proceeds benefit Birch Community Services in Rockwood, which provides food, clothing and household items to ease hunger and poverty.

How to get a cookbook

In person:

  • Drop off your $5 donation to Birch Community Services at Gresham City Hall, 1333 NW Eastman Parkway, between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm in the donation box at the front desk – and pick up your cookbook.

  • Cash or checks accepted; checks must be made out to Birch Community Services.

  • The City cannot make change.

  • No credit card payments.

  • When dropping off your donation, please fill out the donation form for Birch’s record.

Order online

  • Order a print version of the cookbook for $16.95. 

  • Download the digital e-book version for $9.99.

Order a copy online

The Rockwood Food Stories e-book is viewable on nearly any device and is great for sharing and sending.

About Rockwood Food Stories

“The Rockwood Community Cookbook” supports the Gresham Redevelopment Commission’s work to develop a market hall for the Rockwood Rising redevelopment site at 18535 SE Stark St., the former Fred Meyer site.

Plans for the market hall call for fresh produce and prepared foods to help meet a longstanding need for more healthy food options in the neighborhood, plus local entrepreneurship and job training opportunities.

For more information about tenant opportunities at the market hall, call 503-618-3208.


Join Us at Rock the Block!

Rockwood Rising is proud to participate in the 6th annual Rock the Block neighborhood celebration! This year, the festivities will take place right in front of the Rockwood Rising Catalyst Site, and incorporate all of our partners a the Rockwood Community Office. Join us Saturday, August 25th from 10am to 5pm for free music and kids' games, fantastic Rockwood food and retail vendors, and access to numerous community resources.

Be sure to come between 10am and 12pm to participate in POIC's annual "We Got Your Back!" event, where the first 1,500 kids in attendance will receive a free backpack stuffed with school supplies for the new school year. Then, stick around to enjoy entertainment, bounce houses, food, and a celebration of our vibrant neighborhood.


Questions? Check out the Facebook event here! For more information, email or call 503-912-6432

LDA and Ground Lease Approval

On June 19th, 2018, the Gresham Redevelopment Commission (GRDC) (the entity responsible for decisions regarding development in the Rockwood-West Gresham Urban Renewal Area) formally and unanimously approved the project documents for the Rockwood Rising Project.

What Happened?

The GRDC approved several documents that have been developed over the last two years: the design development drawings from YBA Architects, the Land Development Agreements with RKm Development, and the Ground Leases for the Catalyst Site. The GRDC was unanimous in their decision, many expressing great excitement that the project could move on to the next stage. Click here to see the video of the June 19th Meeting.

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What Are these Documents?

A Land Development Agreement (LDA) sets out the terms of a development project, including continuing rights to develop a site.  The Rockwood Rising Project has two LDAs, both approved by the GRDC on June 19th, because the Rockwood Rising Catalyst Site is technically partitioned into two separate sites. The LDA outlines the GRDC's expectations of its development partner, RKm development, to complete the project in accordance to the GRDC Urban Renewal Plan Goals.

A Ground Lease allows a developer to build on land that they do not  own.  The GRDC will maintain ownership of the land at 18535 SE Stark (the Rockwood Rising Catalyst Site), but the execution of this lease allows RKm Development to develop and own buildings on the site.  The Catalyst Site has two Ground Leases, both approved by the GRDC on June 19th, because it is technically partitioned into two separate sites. Leasing, rather than selling, the land allows the GRDC to have more input on the uses of the site now and into the future.

Design Development Drawings lay out mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structural, and architectural details for the location of buildings, streets, the public square, and other capital improvements on the Catalyst Site. These were completed by YBA Architects, based on extensive community outreach, and were approved by the GRDC on June 19th.

Construction Documents are elements of design that provide detail sufficient to obtain building permits and construct the project. These were completed by YBA Architects and were approved by the GRDC on June 19th.

What Does it Mean for Rockwood Rising?

Rockwood Rising has, since the City of Gresham Design Review Committee's May 2017 approval of the design, been in the "Construction Document" stage of the project.  This stage of design includes permitting and code analysis for the construction of the project's three buildings and public plaza.

During this time, GRDC staff and legal counsel, as well as RKm Development, were also creating the business terms of the project in the LDAs and Ground Leases. These cover everything from construction to management to programming to tenant recruitment, and were driven by the data the Project's staff received from the community during the community engagement portion from 2014-2017.

The project's next steps include RKm Development securing the final piece of project financing in the form of New Market Tax Credits.  When all financing is fully secure, construction will begin. 

What does this mean for me, a Rockwood resident?

When project construction is set to begin, there will be an official groundbreaking ceremony announced on as well as all major City of Gresham communication outlets.  In the meantime, we're excited to share that programming on the Catalyst Site has already begun.  Join our partners and future tenants in the project in the following ways this summer:

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Stay tuned for more updates, announcements, and information in this exciting next stage of the project!

Questions? Comments? Send an email to or call 503-618-3208.

Partner Spotlight: Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO)

Central to the conversation surrounding Rockwood Rising is the project's partnership with Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO).  MESO provides business development support to minority-owned, women-owned, and emerging small businesses (MWESB), and has been serving the greater Portland region for more than 10 years. The Rockwood Rising Project is proud to partner with MESO, and has been actively working with them to create new project-specific programming since 2017.

One of the largest parts of Rockwood Rising's goal to create revitalization without displacement is to utilize and support small, local businesses instead of major chains.  Specifically, the project's Market Hall is designed to be an "incubator space" for Rockwood residents who want to begin businesses--creating opportunities for stability and growth for people already in the neighborhood. Rockwood Rising makes this a goal because feedback from the community revealed a widespread desire to start new businesses, and starting a business is difficult work.  There are licenses to obtain, hoops to jump through, and lots of up-front overhead expenses.  Without consistent help, many new small businesses fail. 

Rockwood Rising is navigating these challenges in large part through its partnership with MESO. While the development project will provide the infrastructure--new, small, subsidized spaces for new businesses to set up shop, MESO will be onsite to provide one-on-one coaching, support, and financial planning for new business owners. 


Programming has already begun.  Now situated in the Rockwood Community Office just across the street from the Catalyst Site, MESO is providing free and low-cost coaching sessions, classes, and lending to residents who would like to begin providing products and services.  Upon completion of the development project, MESO will be housed onsite to continue providing support for small business owners who will launch in one of the three buildings.  Check out our partner video below for an introduction to MESO and the great work they already do in the neighborhood:

MESO is a 5031c3 nonprofit, now providing free and low-cost services at 478 NE 187th Ave Portland, OR 97233.  For more information about their services, email or call 503-841-3351. For more information about the Rockwood Rising project, email or call 503-618-3208.

Partner Spotlight: Portland OIC + Rosemary Anderson High School


Rockwood Rising is proud to partner with Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center + Rosemary Anderson High School (POIC + RAHS), who have been doing great work in Rockwood for over a decade, and who will eventually coordinate the culinary apprenticeship program in the Rockwood Rising Catalyst Site.  POIC + RAHS specialized in reconnecting youth who have been alienated by poverty, family instability, and homelessness, and provide wraparound educational and career support from high school through early adulthood.  Part of the team has recently opened their development offices in the Rockwood Community Office, making this once-vacant building full of Gresham service providers who will be a part of the project when construction is complete


Rockwood Rising Staff are now partnering with the City of Gresham's Communication team to produce a series of videos on the great work already occurring in the neighborhood.  President and CEO Joe McFarrin sat down recently to talk about the ways POIC's vision works in conjunction with the Rockwood Rising project:

To learn more about the many services our partners provide, visit the POIC + RAHS website.  To speak with a member of the Rockwood Rising Project's staff, send an email to or call (503) 618-3208.

KeyBank Announces its Largest Local Grant Ever:  $250,000 to Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO)

Courtesy of Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO)

Courtesy of Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO)

Portland, Ore. -- KeyBank has just announced its largest grant ever in the Oregon/Southwest Washington market -- $250,000 to Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO)

The grant will support MESO's current work in Portland and new work in Gresham, specifically in the Rockwood Rising Market Hall. KeyBank's investment will allow MESO to offer comprehensive business development and small business technical assistance services to over 150 clients in each of the two grant years, with a focus on the area’s growing minority and women-owned business sectors.

“Our mission is to help our communities thrive, and nowhere is that more important than in underserved communities that often lack access to business expertise and funding,” said Michelle Weisenbach, president of KeyBank in Oregon and SW Washington.

“We are delighted to partner with MESO to help these industrious small-scale entrepreneurs improve their communities through business development, as we have seen that MESO’s proven model and comprehensive services lead to increased revenue, business retention and loan repayment.” Weisenbach added that they were impressed by MESO’s success rate, where 92 percent of clients remain in business after graduating from MESO's programs and loan repayment is 99 percent.

MESO services supported by the grant include individualized business education, planning, goal setting, accounting/tax assistance, market research, mentoring/peer support, access to financing and savings programs and referrals to community resources. In Rockwood, MESO will play a key role in the City’s largest urban renewal project in Gresham’s history—Rockwood Rising. Scheduled to break ground late this spring, the development will include a Market Hall featuring space for micro-entrepreneurs, food vendors, pop up shops and more established businesses. MESO’s technical assistance to potential Market Hall tenants will help them bring their business dreams to life. Since summer of 2017, MESO has assisted 65 diverse entrepreneurs in the City of Gresham with business planning, building credit and understanding financial statements.

“MESO's ability to attract experienced, culturally-competent staff, mentors, volunteers and partners gives us an edge in understanding clients' challenges and the best approaches for overcoming barriers,” says MESO Executive Direction Nita Shah. “We appreciate KeyBank’s generous support that will allow us to bring these proven programs to Gresham entrepreneurs.”

About KeyCorp

KeyCorp's roots trace back 190 years to Albany, New York. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Key is one of the nation's largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $136.7 billion at September 30, 2017.

Key provides deposit, lending, cash management, insurance, and investment services to individuals and businesses in 15 states under the name KeyBank National Association through a network of more than 1,200 branches and more than 1,500 ATMs. Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name. For more information, visit KeyBank is Member FDIC.

About MESO

Launched in 2005, MESO’s mission is to improve the economic opportunities of underserved individuals through empowerment, education and entrepreneurship for the benefit of the greater community.

MESO offers comprehensive business services in Oregon, and SW Washington, that include innovative lending and savings programs, technical assistance, business education and planning, and marketing and accounting support to underserved communities. MESO is a designated SBA micro lender and SBA PRIME recipient, an IDA fiduciary, a USDA RMAP (Rural Micro-Entrepreneur Assistance Program) lender, and a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). MESO fills a much-needed niche, working with small businesses through conception to growth and from asset building and credit preparedness to first loans and business launches, to business expansions every year.

To celebrate this exciting development, MESO will be holding a celebration in support of Keybank and Rockwood Rising

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Rockwood Rising is proud to partner with MESO, who are now offering free business services to Rockwood residents at the Rockwood Community Office,  478 SE 187th Ave Portland, OR 97233, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10am-6pm.  For more information, contact or

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!

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."

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. 

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