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Thursday 2 pm city hall public hearing on waterfront development plans for OHSU and PDA.

*N. Macadam being "turned into another Pearl District" -- The Low income housingaspect of the proposal that was previoiusly agreed to has been changed to being far less than was agreed to... This will be paid for, not by the owners of the property, who will reap the benefits of the sale of these places, but by we the taxpayer.

*74 million for a tram to OHSU, a tax-exempt "non-profit" corporation with questionable policies on who gets treated there...heavily funded by taxpayers and private foundations.

Far as I can tell, there is a move being made by the Portland Developers Association that has a chance of being opposed by the CIty Council and even possibly Vera. This is one of the biggest issues in the city right now, and even if we can't attend, letters and calls to council members and Katz are essential if it is to be killed rather than passed through. Testimony on Thursday is important, but also it can't be ill-informed ranting. Maybe that's why there has been no effort to post this here....
Many facets of this project were covered on KBOO wednesday morning. Among these:

*N. Macadam being "turned into another Pearl District" -- The Low income housingaspect of the proposal that was previoiusly agreed to has been changed to being far less than was agreed to. The new "South Waterfront" District will feature basic (needed) cleanup of the very toxic area around the Ross Island Bridge, with high rises and million dollar apiece condos in that area. This will be paid for, not by the owners of the property, who will reap the benefits of the sale of these places, but by we the taxpayer.

*74 million for a tram to OHSU, a tax-exempt "non-profit" corporation with questionable policies on who gets treated there, along with prioritization of funding on animal tests that yield questionable results and that are heavily funded by taxpayers and private foundations.

I don't know where one can find more information about this, maybe the Alliance has a press release. Or KBOO might have some idea of the facts around this. As far as who to write/call, I believe the portlandsurvival.com website has that list. Guess the alternative media isn't reading/submitting to this site anymore... can't imagine why.

This is one of the hottest issues in town right now people. Guess nobody that reads this site reads the boregonian, but on this one they actually oppose this move by the PDA.

Good project 09.Jul.2003 10:23


Here's the Oregonian article: Personally I'm all for high density housing to keep the yuppies from driving and polluting 50 miles a day from the suburbs every day. Plus it will keep the Urban Growth Boundary from growing faster, saving forests and farms.
Waterfront a towering decision
If built as planned, the South Waterfront district will become Oregon's highest and densest neighborhood, with buildings that crack Portland's top-20 list of skyscrapers going up half a football field from the Willamette River.
The development would be unprecedented in scale.
It would give Oregon Health & Science University room to expand, enable residential developers to create futuristic towers with million-dollar views along the river and help the city steer more people downtown, reducing pressure on the urban growth boundary.
It also would obliterate sweeping views from the Corbett/Terwilliger/Lair Hill neighborhood, eliminate all but Mount Hood from panoramic viewpoints along Terwilliger Boulevard and add thousands of cars to already overtaxed intersections.
Neighborhood leaders say the city has brushed aside those negatives in its rush to kick-start development in South Waterfront's 31-acre central district south of the Ross Island Bridge.
Portland isn't New York City, said neighborhood activist Marty Slapikas. The tall buildings clustered together will stick out like a sore thumb, given Portland's smaller-scale geography.
"If this is what the people of this city want their city to look like, OK," Slapikas said. "But let's have a public discussion. I don't think this fits. I think they're trying to change the city of Portland into the other types of cities that many of us have left."
A development agreement among the city, OHSU and private investors led by Pearl District developer Homer Williams is scheduled for City Council approval Thursday.
Portland Development Commission officials, who led the city's negotiations, agree a high-rise development hugging the river will be a dramatic change for Portland.
But most of the towers will be narrow "point towers," perhaps akin to sleek residential towers rising in Vancouver, B.C., and other West Coast cities. The narrow buildings, subject to city design reviews, will create a more exciting second skyline, city officials say, and reduce the loss of views.
The city had to jack up heights to coax developers into giving up land along the Willamette for a 125-foot greenway, city officials say.
The tall towers are also key to making the money work. Because urban renewal relies on increased property taxes, pricey condominium towers along the water are crucial to pay for public improvements, city officials say.
Buildings owned by OHSU, a nonprofit, won't be taxable. Apartment towers are likely to get property tax breaks given to central city apartments. That leaves the condominiums, with the tallest towers bringing in the most taxes.
The city wants to spend $72 million in the central district on projects such as a streetcar extension, a controversial tram to OHSU, new streets, pipes and parks, and affordable housing.
Tall and dense "There are trade-offs," said Abe Farkas, the commission's development director. "Yes, there will be some slender towers that people will look at. But they won't see a large brownfield area and industrial area. They'll see parks and a greenway, and they'll have access to those."
The neighborhood will be dense by Portland standards.
Preliminary plans call for 2,700 condominiums and apartments in the 31-acre central district. By comparison, Northeast Portland's Roseway neighborhood has the same number of homes on 517 acres.
Oregon's densest census tract, in Northwest Portland's apartment district, has about 40 people an acre. When finished, with a dozen residential towers and 1.3 people to a unit, South Waterfront's central district would have about 120 people an acre, three times as dense.
Plans call for six or more office buildings as well, with enough space for 5,000 workers.
The neighborhood also will be tall.
Buildings 150 feet away from the Willamette's high-water mark can go up to 250 feet -- higher than all but 17 Portland skyscrapers and about the height of the Portland Center residential towers near Portland State University.
Buildings a block west can be up to 325 feet -- the first one built will be Portland's seventh-tallest building.
Sacrificed view
A 100-foot drop between neighborhoods to the west and South Waterfront will help some. But the Lair Hill neighborhood could be looking at buildings more than 200 feet higher than the neighborhood itself.
Taking the ground elevation into account, the tallest buildings could approach 375 feet or more in elevation, as high as some points on Terwilliger Boulevard and the lower reaches of OHSU's hilltop campus.
Plans crafted in the 1980s called for maintaining the panoramic views from Terwilliger. But city planners say there's no way to do that and build anything but low-rise, blocky buildings in South Waterfront that would effectively wall off the river.
Planners mapped the maximum building heights and concluded that the base of Mount Hood would still be visible from the key viewpoint on Terwilliger, near the intersection with Campus Drive.
As for the neighborhood views, the city has no responsibility to protect private views, city planner Susan Hartnett said.
As much as possible, she said, South Waterfront's east-west streets will align with streets in the neighborhoods above, allowing unobstructed glimpses of the river for drivers and pedestrians.
Nohad Toulan, dean of Portland State University's College of Urban and Public Affairs, said building densely at South Waterfront, the central city's biggest swath of available land, makes sense as long as the buildings are well designed.
The alternatives The alternatives are shoehorning more units into existing neighborhoods or allowing the region to sprawl even more.
"A combination of Mount Hood and a nice urban silhouette along the river might not be a bad combination," Toulan said. "If we are to keep the view of Mount Hood free for everybody, then we just have to freeze the situation as it stands now."
Neighborhood leaders say they know they can't preserve all views. But they want a lower-profile development, particularly close to the river.
They also want the city to devote money to street improvements in the congested neighborhood, already severed by Interstate 5, Barbur Boulevard, Naito Parkway and a tangle of Ross Island Bridge ramps.
"It's the first time in Portland we're talking about taking buildings this high along the riverbank," said Jerry Ward, an architect and Lair Hill neighborhood activist. "We're putting the tall people in the front of the theater, that's what we're doing."
The plans are ambitious for Portland, but other cities have gone higher. Vancouver, B.C., developers are seeking city approval for a 600-foot-tall tower, which would be the city's tallest building.
Vancouver's dense development, heavy on residential towers and approaching Manhattan intensity in parts, helps the environment by thwarting sprawl, proponents say.
A sense of life The Vancouver area increased its share of residents living in compact communities from 46 percent in 1986 to 62 percent by 2001, according to Northwest Environment Watch. Portland's comparable share in 2001 was 28 percent.
Vancouver developers have put up 90 towers since 1995, sparking controversy over blocked views and increased density, said George Wagner, an architecture professor at the University of British Columbia.
With proper design, high towers can help generate foot traffic for stores, theaters and restaurants, Wagner said. "The edges of the street and the lower floors of the buildings are always populated. There's a sense that the city is alive."
Williams, the Portland developer, has seen that dynamic at work in the Pearl District and says he's confident it will replicate in North Macadam.
Portland's new zoning codes for the area don't require buildings to be nearly as skinny as Vancouver's -- a point the city has not emphasized. But Williams said maximizing both views and density requires skinny towers.
In his Pearl District conference room, he laid out plans showing narrow, sleek towers topping a thicker base of townhouses and stores. With a small smile, he pulled out a schematic of a huge condo tower balcony with a breathtaking view of Mount Hood. He figures condos in South Waterfront will command higher prices than in the Pearl District, Portland's hottest and priciest neighborhood.
The city's "bookends" The building's proximity to the river will give not just the million-dollar penthouses but all units above the third floor outstanding views, he said. South Waterfront and the Pearl, another deliberately dense neighborhood, will serve as "bookends" to downtown.
"It's urban, there's no question about it," he said. "But it will really bring the city down to the river, which this city really hasn't done before. This is a natural progression for the city."
The development's scale, waterfront location and point tower construction are the rage in urban development. But the city's history shows that some planning trends, such as the failed idea to build the Mount Hood freeway through Portland's eastside neighborhoods, are clear mistakes decades later, said Slapikas, the neighborhood activist.
"The city people are into density, and it's fine if they like that," he said. "But when I moved into this neighborhood, I never expected 325-foot-high penthouses in buildings with no kids."

 link to www.oregonlive.com

I disagree on the face of it 09.Jul.2003 10:59


Based on what little I know, and have read about it, it doesn't look like the best plan for the future of Portland. Density is Dense. The people who move into the these fancy buildings are not going to have any connection to the history of Portland. They are not going to vote for increased taxes for schools. They are going displace the poor, the working class citizens, and they are going to displace small businesses. They are going to displace those who have lived in Portland all of their lives.
They are going to do it for the sake of more mega entertainment centers and more corporate shopping malls. Once in place it will not be removable. The city needs to give careful consideration to how such projects have effected the nature of the quality of life for all of the citizens of the community.


img 09.Jul.2003 13:18



Firetruck 09.Jul.2003 13:33


Just wanted to follow up on your comments before the conversation runs off on a tangent -- nobody's going to be displaced through this project, as it's primarily vacant land to begin with. There's a handfull of old parking lots, the Zidell (sp?) shipyard, and a few warehouses, but that's about it. I suppose there are a few homeless folks that live in the area, but they're being run off elsewhere, waterfront project or no waterfront project.

Take a look at the plans. I too question the use of tax dollars to boost this development along, but the plans call for anything but mega-malls and entertainment centers.

Plans available here:  http://www.planning.ci.portland.or.us/pl_sowa_sum.html

No HTML skills -- you know what to do.

I just took a gander 09.Jul.2003 15:04


At the web site. It looks like a lot of planning and review went into this project. My only concerns would be that the project allowed for maintaining the historical integrity, and dignity of the city. I'm sure the construction aspect of the thing would create jobs. My hope would be that local skills and talent be given first crack at it.

So are any of you taking into account... 09.Jul.2003 15:31


that part of these rosy-tinted structures will be concentration camps and torture chambers for yet more animals? ... sucking away state and federal dollars that could be spent on human health ... in real terms, as in basic healthcare and clinical research. It's not mentioned much because it doesn't sound pretty. But it's true. Would be excited to build Buchenwald? I hear it created jobs.

"Redevelopment in the district is meant to serve as a catalyst for the creation of a larger **science and technology-based economy** in the Central City and is meant to embrace the presence of the river, contributing to its health and enjoyment."

Dont Believe the Hype! 09.Jul.2003 17:38


Let's rewind from this project as a proposal and just think about it as a PROCESS.

No doubt our waterfront is messed up and needs some attention, freeways disconnect people from places in that area, and there is a need to provide truly low income places for people to live and work. But if you drive around Macadam and pretty much anywhere else in the City, you will find that there are plenty of condos and office space available for rent and sale!

Did we ask for this project? No!

Do we need this project? No!

Is "growth" inevitable? No!

Do we benefit from this project? No!

Our City leaders should show leadership for the people, not for the profiteer developers who are turning this place into California or Vancouver or wherever is not Portland.


That tram must be stopped 09.Jul.2003 18:13


The tram is one of the worst parts of the whole project. No mater how nice the designers try to make it look when it is brand new, imagine how it will look in 10 years or more. Combine that with the privacy issues. People will be calling for this thing to be torn down from the day it starts going up. The sky looks much nicer when there isn't industrial flotsam in the way. Still, it might make a nice target for 4th of july displays.

Doesn't everyone just love the above ground wires too. Certainly the Macadam district shouldn't be the only place blessed with a fully wired skyline. Why don't we dig up the wires buried underground, and put them where we can really enjoy them, up on phone poles. What were people thinking, burying that stuff. They are so lovely. And lets get a lot more billboards too. If we want to compare with other big cities, we need to look like it. We really need an injection of urban blight in this town.

!!!!!!!!!!!!! 09.Jul.2003 18:44


Where is the ELF when you need them?

more info on the southwaterfront 09.Jul.2003 20:14

paying attention

This project will suck up a lot of public money to build housing that will benefit , surprise, people with money who can find housing without the need for public money...
80% of the units will be for people who make $80,000 and up.
That is not a realistic economic spread based on the income and population of the city at large --- especially the people without adequate housing.
The developers who stand to gain, own some of the property --- and some of our city commissioners --- Saltzman for example, is from a development family and stands to gain....
another problem, the construction jobs will not pay union wage so this is also a union busting project and, of the many jobs created --- I think the figure was about 10,000 --- the majority will be service industry jobs and we all know how much money is the service industry for workers...
BOOOO thumbs down....
if the big guys want to make money do it without public money

Subsidy to growth 09.Jul.2003 21:26


This project is just another subsidy to growth, pure and simple. And growth helps no one except those who are already in the money (see state stats on ratcheted up poverty, hunger, homelessness, and the gap between the rich and poor during the boom of the '90s; over 80 percent of the new jobs paying below the livable wage,etc.).

The best use of that land is to clean up the toxic mess and let it grow back into native habitat. The scam they all sell us on is that this development will check sprawl. But we're getting more sprawl than ever already, and a more dense sprawl at that -- see the once rural verges of all 3 counties; the UGB being opened by 13,000 more acres in Damascus in order to draw another 400,000 more people to the area (4/5th the size of Portland now), connected by a giant highway.

There is absolutely no environmental consciousness being applied to this project, or to any new development projects going on in the region for that matter. If there is to be a development there, why not create at least some car-free zones? If Miami Beach can close off 20 blocks to make a pedestrian zone, why can't "sustainable" Portland? Instead we get more streets, parking garages and cars choking up the landscape and air, and more ridiculous, out of scale, out of place tall buildings blocking everyone's view and violating the Portland civic ethic.

2 choices 09.Jul.2003 22:44


two choices: Sterile strip mall McMansion Subdivisions continuing to the coast and joining Salem, wiping out farm and forest land forever; or high density development in and around downtown? Guess which one wouold involve 1/100 times less driving and pollution?
An extremely easy choice for me!

To John 09.Jul.2003 22:53


That's the false dilemma that those manning the growth machine have been so good at deluding us into falling for, John. Either destroy one way or destroy the other. Yet we are getting both, in case you haven't had a chance to go see it all: More sprawl, more dense sprawl, than ever at the same time more build-up of garbage development in the inner city. The choice is actually whether we continue to soporifically buy into the sham or whether we say no to it all and yes to restoration and preservation. Growth is not inevitable: it is the result of very consciously planned marketing and subsidy schemes in order to make the rich richer.

Cant stop growth 09.Jul.2003 23:23


Scott, I have nothing to profit by growth, but the word is out, and you cant stop people from moving to Portland whether for the climate or the arts or the Nature. Thats why we have such a high unemployment rate. Not enough jobs for the people that want to live here. Urban renewal of all sorts, and inner city high density development like this are absolutely vital to slowing urban sprawl and Chevy Suburban commuting to the city.

SAVE THE CHIMPANZEES!!!!! 10.Jul.2003 05:10

g.w. bush

I agree with this article a hundred percent. We must protect and save all the monkeys and chimpanzees. Thanks to Portland Indymedia for making this a feature. All monkeys and chimpanzees deserve our utmost support. Please go to the following link about how you can help Save the Monkeys (and Chimps).

Oops 10.Jul.2003 05:15

g.w. bush

Here is the correct link to the site. Remember, Save the Monkeys!!!!


non-commercial 10.Jul.2003 12:46


excuse me, but did some one hope that this wouldnt be just another commercial project with all the exclusivity and entertainment centers that entails? i will be disappointed when you cant get in the door or when all that is inside are a bunch of sony and microsoft stores.

Did anybody go? 10.Jul.2003 14:50



Brilliant! 10.Jul.2003 15:04

The Urban Planner

"Growth is not inevitable: it is the result of very consciously planned marketing and subsidy schemes in order to make the rich richer."

Damn right! First, we tell all those immigrants to stop moving to countries like the US and Canada. There's an awful lot of them, and they have this awful tendency to settle in cities, instead of in rural areas where everyone's white, doesn't speak their language or understand their religion or culture. Obviously this is a problem, and if we want to stop the rich from getting richer, we've got to stop all these goddamn foreigners from moving here and clogging up the cities.

Second, we tell everyone who wants to move to a city that doesn't live there right now to fuck right off. Wanna take that job? Wanna get away from your homophobic or racist small town? Wanna be an artist or a writer? Too fuckin' bad! We're full up here, can't ya see that? Go fuck yourself, buddy!

I can't wait for the shining brave new world this approach will bring us! Not to mention how great it will be when rents go through the roof, because there's a never-ending increase in demand for housing and a static supply! Sounds like fuckin' utopia, man!

The Urban Planner