The city of Salem lies in the center of Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley and has an economic history based on agriculture and natural resources. Though often eclipsed by vibrant Portland at the north end of the Valley and the university city of Eugene to the south, Salem has long been known as a central, meeting place where people come together to exchange goods, services and ideas. Even before Europeans arrived, the land on which the city was founded was known as Chemeketa, meaning “meeting place.” In order to foster this sense of community and regional interaction, the city has recently embarked on a campaign to revitalize its historic downtown core by renovating existing buildings, attracting new commercial enterprises and reinvigorating local parklands and green spaces.
Since the 1860s, the 13-acre site at the confluence of Pringle Creek and the Willamette River, one block south of downtown Salem, has been an industrial zone that monopolized a prominent part of the riverfront and spewed pollution into the air and water. Since the closure of the Boise Cascade paper mill in 2007, the concrete husk of the building has sat vacant and dilapidated.
Working with local businesses and planners, CB Two Architects has envisioned a mixed-use development that will take advantage of this site's unique natural landscape and architectural legacy. The Pringle Square Apartments, built upon and re-purposing the existing mill, will feature 107 residential units and over 20,000 square feet of commercial space. A creek-side esplanade will link this south block development to new commercial buildings to the north of the creek as well as provide easy pedestrian access to Salem's Riverfront Park and existing trails along Pringle Creek. Ultimately, with the construction of a proposed pedestrian bridge to Minto-Brown Island Park, this development will be the keystone that connects the local Willamette University, the Salem Hospital campus, the Salem Civic Center campus and the downtown commercial zone to over 1,000 acres of parkland.
Once an industrial eyesore, Pringle Square will reinvigorate downtown by providing unique and affordable apartments and commercial spaces, convenient public thoroughfares, ecological restoration and a design that will encourage future emphasis on re-use and urban core development.