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Plan to innovate area around OMSI in the works

The area near OMSI in Southeast Portland could be seeing some big changes.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The area near OMSI in Southeast Portland could be seeing some big changes.

OMSI has plans to change the look and feel of the Eastbank Esplanade from the PEPCO building all the way to the Portland Opera.

“There's great excitement. There's great energy around this area and everyone wants to see this place come alive,” said John Farmer, communications manager for OMSI.

He said they've got a master plan outlining how they want to do revitalize the area. One of the proposals is aimed at creating the Tilikum Plaza, just north of the Tilikum Bridge.

It would be open for markets, fairs and other gatherings.

“[It’s] an area that families and people and pedestrians and bikers can come and enjoy as they enjoy the rest of the city,” Farmer said.

OMSI also wants to straighten out Water Avenue, which cuts through its property. The plan is to realign the street to the east. The newly realigned Water Avenue would have larger walkways, dedicated bike lanes, and potentially some shops or housing.

At this point, it's still early in the planning stages.

“There’s more of a space. There's more of a destination for people without all that traffic,” said Farmer. He added the plan would also make it safer for kids and families going to and from the museum.

Farmer said the land would be leased to developers, but exactly how much it will all cost and how it'll be paid for has yet to be hammered out.

Don't expect to see cranes or dump trucks anytime soon. Farmer said it could take 5-10 years to start seeing changes.

The state has to “acknowledge” the plan, which loosely means state officials have to give the green light first. OMSI's plan is a part of the larger plan called Central City 2035. It’s focused on the City of Portland's growth and development.

Farmer said the next step is to get the developers more involved, and to talk about what exactly might get built in the OMSI area.