Portland City Council today approved a plan to raise the maximum height for construction along the Willamette River, clearing the way for the possibility of skyscrapers designed by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

The 3-1 vote comes two weeks after the council rejected the project, sparking uproar and frustration.

Once again, City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly cast the decisive vote.

Eudaly changed her vote to "yes" after what she described as "digging in" with city planning staff on the question of whether Portland should continue its policy related to having a gradual decrease in building heights closer to the Willamette River.

City Commissioners
City Commissioners

Commissioner Amanda Fritz voted against the height increase of up to 325 feet at Riverplace, in part by citing that principle. Commissioner Dan Saltzman again recused himself because of property his family owns nearby.

But Eudaly responded to that argument directly.

"The step-down sounds like a noble tenet," she said. "It was intended to preserve views of mostly commercial buildings from the Bus Mall forward. I don't think our past policies of the last 30 years have resulted in a vibrant waterfront."

Part of the way developer NBP Capital tried to convince City Hall to raise heights was by presenting the possibility of up to 500 units of affordable housing through the city's inclusionary housing program.

The council is requiring the development to go through what's called a master planning process to give the planning bureau and the City Council  more say on what gets developed at the site.

Today's vote was technically an amendment to the Central City plan. The larger plan will not be voted on till later this spring.