In an industrial neighborhood on Portland’s Columbia Slough contaminated by PCBs and pesticides, Redside Development’s Whitaker Way Industrial Office Park is on track to be the first Salmon-Safe Certified property of its type nationally. Located near Portland International Airport,  the Slough provides critical rearing habitat for migrating salmon, particularly lower Columbia coho. The property is undergoing an environmentally innovative retrofit to restore salmon habitat.

“Whitaker Way’s location on the Columbia Slough makes it a prime candidate for habitat renewal,” says Melynda Retallack, AIA NCARB, who directs sustainability efforts for Redside Development, a commercial real estate company known for its expertise in sustainable redevelopment and asset management. Managed by Redside and owned by Eastern Western Corporation, Whitaker Way is a 17-acre site originally developed in the 1970s to hold a truck shop and warehouse. The property now has nine light industrial warehouses and landscaping. The site is part of the Columbia Slough, an extensive network of sloughs and wetlands along the southern floodplain of the Columbia River that is now a highly managed water system with dikes and pumps to manage watershed drainage and flood control.

The Salmon-Safe Certification represents only the beginning, says Retallack. “We have a lot of work to do in making Whitaker Way an asset to the Slough, rather than a liability as it is now. We’ve done some things right but it’s not enough and we’re working with Salmon-Safe to do much, much more.”  Among immediate action items are:

  • Protecting and restoring habitats, including restoration of the riparian buffer along the Columbia Slough which runs along the north edge of the property;
  • Conserving water, by replacing irrigation with drought-tolerant plants, mulching, and use of an automated irrigation system;
  • Reducing use of fertilizer and pesticides, through the use of slow-release fertilizers and the elimination of insecticides;
  • Treating stormwater runoff, through bioswales and a rain garden for treating roof runoff.

The Salmon Safe Certification is one of several sustainability-related accomplishments for Redside in 2011. Specifically 221 Molalla in Oregon City, an old lumber yard redeveloped and operated by Redside, received an Energy Star certification from the Environmental Protection Agency. Certified buildings use less energy, cost less to operate, and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the average commercial building. On the Energy Star scale of 1 to 100, 221 Molalla earned an energy performance rating of 90 (compared to a national average of 50).