In the 1950’s, several significant property acquisitions took place along the waterfront to prepare for future fill and development of usable land in the area. The State of Oregon, U.S. Government, Corps of Engineers and Bonneville Power Administration all cooperated in the fill project. The property east of the bridge was filled and prepared for development.
Eddie Mays Inn (now Hood River Inn) was constructed on the eastern fill area in 1964. Fill of the second waterfront site, located west of the Hood River, was completed in the 1960s. Both properties supported the development of many business uses, including industrial, commercial and recreational. The waterfront planning and development continues to be an ongoing project for the Port of Hood River as the area’s community and economy changes and diversifies.
The third fill project, in the Marina Park area, was completed in 1970 and the area’s general improvements began. In 1972, the first permanent moorage floats were installed in the marina. The Port Office Building was completed in 1973. A visitor dock was installed in the marina in 1975. In 1977, Department of Motor Vehicles moved into the Port office complex with Oregon State Police. The Hood River County Museum was built in Port Marina Park on land provided by the Port of Hood River. The Waterfront Industrial Park gained diverse industrial development from businesses such as Luhr Jensen, Western Power Products, Hood River Distillers, and Jantzen. The first Port of Hood River waterfront plan is produced in 1975.
Marina swim beach opened in 1980. Hood River Waterfront Plan, Phase I, sets waterfront development in process in 1983. In 1985, a pedestrian bridge was built across the Hood River to link Marina Park with downtown. Marina Park restrooms were remodeled adding showers. Cruise ships began stopping at the commercial dock in 1989. Also in 1989, the Hood River Waterfront Plan was updated.
In 1991, Wells Island was sold to the Trust for Public Land and then subsequently sold to the U.S. Forest Service. An additional dock was added to the Marina moorage. Construction of the Event Site began for a cost of $1 million, using $317,000 in lottery funding, and improving the cruise dock as well. The Hood River Waterfront Plan was updated in 1992. Beginning in 1993, Clark Door building began its transformation into the Hood River Expo Center exhibition hall and Visitors Center. 71 cruise ships stop at the commercial dock in 1993. National trade shows began booking events into the Expo Center. A 150-foot extension was built on cruise dock allowing larger and multiple cruise ship dockings. A community Marina Planning Committee process began in 1994 to study ideas and concerns for the future development of commercially zoned areas of the Marina. In 1995, the Waterfront Advisory Committee was formed as part of an agreement between the Port and the City of Hood River to prepare a plan for the waterfront. Marina moorage was expanded in 1995 to accommodate longer boats and new overflow dock constructed.
A dedicated swimming beach was constructed in the Marina Park area. After two years of citizen involvement, the Waterfront Masterplan developed by the Waterfront Advisory Committee went to the City Planning Commission and City Council in 1996. The first Gorge Games brought in world-class windsurfing, kayaking, mountain biking competition to the waterfront in 1996. A public/private partnership agreement between the Port and D.M. Stevenson Ranch was entered into in 1997 for the development of Hood RiverFront Lodge on the waterfront, which included a new conference facility. New restrooms were constructed in the Marina parking area with funds from Fish & Wildlife and State Marine Board. In 1998, Port receives $500,000 grant for street and utility improvements for the Second Street extension project.
A waterfront panel was appointed to study the development of a park on the waterfront in 1998. The old Jucho Building was demolished to make room for new Hood RiverFront development in January of 1999. The Marina Landscape Committee commissioned a landscaping plan from Karen Mirande and $95,000 was approved to complete the first phase of work. Visitors Center expansion was completed in 1999. In July of 1999, the Port Commission denied extension of the Stevenson agreement and put the waterfront development on hold.
Landscaping of the Marina Green area, including irrigation and drainage, was completed in the spring of 2000. The 17th annual Harvest Fest at the Expo Center, second annual Pear and Wine Festival, and the first annual Jazz on the Water Festival in Port Marina Park were held in 2000. The Army Corps of Engineers dredged the Boat Basin channel to allow bigger cruise ships to pass through the channel from the Columbia River in 2000 and 2002. In 2000, the Columbia Area Transit (CAT) District was given permission by the Port Commission to build a transit station next to the Expo Center; however, they reconsidered the site when the RiverFront development fell through. In March of 2000, the Port and the City agreed to continue their work together to reformulate their vision for the waterfront development plan. Leland Consulting Group was chosen by the Port/City Task Force to develop a new master plan, which included zoning and implementation guidelines. Kiteboarding came to the waterfront “Spit” in 2000. Construction of two new restrooms at the Event Site and the Marina Park Beach began in 2000 and were completed in the spring of 2001.
Because the Leland Plan was not economically feasible, the Port/City Task Force continued to work together on the waterfront zoning to complete the Waterfront Action Plan. In July of 2003, the Commission entered into negotiations with William Smith Properties to plan and develop the waterfront property. The 2nd Street Project engineering began in the fall of 2002. Work was completed on the Marina Park portion of the River Walk pedestrian access way in 2002 with the help of an Oregon State Parks grant. In 2005, the Commission pulled the mixed-use development rezoning and decided to develop the waterfront as a business park, with public amenities interspersed for recreation, bicycle/pedestrian riverfront trails, and water access. “Lot 6” was donated to the City of Hood River in January of 2006 for a waterfront park under terms of an intergovernmental agreement. The Park Development Committee began working on development plans in 2006. Maritime Services came to the waterfront boat basin in the spring of 2006 to refurbish yachts and build floating structures. In May of 2006, the new 2nd Street extension was constructed as a new entry into the waterfront area in anticipation of the Waterfront Employment project design and development work.