Another Fox Tower? Appeal Wed. 2 PM
Developer Moyer wants an illegal transfer of theoretical aerial bulk from Park Block 5 to Park Block 4. Moyer's is the first FAR-transfer attempt since the Allegro fiasco. But the Design Commission says, "no problem." The appellants question FAR transfer in general and want the loophole stricken from the Central City Plan.
Moyer Tower appeal is Wednesday, Feb 13, 2 PM
Another Fox Tower? The 35-story office tower, bigger than Fox and just a block away, is proposed for Park Block 4 (SW Morrison and Park). It would be the second largest office building in city and state. The proposal was approved by the Design Commission in a Christmas decision (12/26).
The proposal includes a questionable transfer of theoretical aerial bulk (FAR) from Park Block 5 to Park Block 4. Moyer's is the first FAR-transfer attempt since the Allegro fiasco. The appellants question FAR transfer in general and want the loophole stricken from the Central City Plan. Appellants say that all rights to the airspace Moyer wants to claim were renounced in 1997, when Block 5, long appreciated as an open public space, was legally made a City park. They say a park, by definition, is an open public space with no FAR to transfer.
The appellant's 17-page filing includes "A Peoples History of Park Block 5." It notes that the area has been a construction-sacrifice zone for too many of its years and could become so again next month.
The public is invited to comment at the hearing in the Council Chambers, 4th and Madison at 2 PM, Wednesday. Comments can also be e-mailed to Karla Moore-Love, Council Clerk firstname.lastname@example.org or given or mailed to her at 1221 SW 4th, Rm. 140, Portland 97204.
This is your opportunity to tell the Council what you think of more high-rise development, gentrification, and construction downtown. Moyer's architect is talking in the press like a planning Czar. He says he can put skyscrapers anywhere downtown using FAR stratagems if zoning does not allow, as with Moyer Tower. The Block-5 area has been a construction-sacrifice zone too often through the years :1997-2000, 2006-2008, and, if Moyer gets his way, it will be so again 2008-2011.
"What market collapse?" say developers, who claim they're building "ten years into the future" and for "an exclusive market." What do you say to the makeover of your city for the benefit of some hypothetical upscale market from out of town? Moyer Tower stands for all of that and more of that.
Below is the appellant's statement of the issues:
Appellant's Statement To The City Council
1/9/08, Re: LU-07-14033, Moyer Tower, aka Park Ave. West
A 33-story Moyer Tower is an extreme project with profound environmental impacts and civic significance. The developer demands contortions of the codes, including a dubious transfer of FAR. The City has processed the matter, not as a proposal requiring major scrutiny, but as a done-deal to be routinely rubber-stamped. We have seen consideration only by the Design Commission, a perfunctory technical panel.
Land-use issue. Must we appeal up to the Council to get a proper consideration of that fundamental land-use question: should the project be there in the first place? Shouldn't the Planning Commission review the matter? Does this city really want another Fox Tower, even bigger and just a block away? The architect has touted Moyer Tower in the press as the "ground zero" for a new wave of downtown high-rise construction. Does the Council endorse a new wave of Fox Towers all over town?
Bogus-bulk FAR transfer. FAR means floor-area-ratio, a way of expressing a building's bulk. Moyer wants a 410-foot tower in a neighborhood zoned for 75 feet, stretching the code by a factor of six. A park, by definition, is an open public space that has no FAR to transfer. Any theoretical FAR on Park Block 5 disappeared in 1997 when the public defeated another Moyer proposal for a parking garage, and the property was legally reserved as a City Park. The transfer would be a theft of the public open airspace traditionally preserved over Park Block 5 and an insult to the citizens who fought for this airspace a decade ago.
No due process. In advance of any hearings, one commissioner boasted in the press that Moyer's Park-Block-5 FAR stratagem was "poster-child for floor-area transfer" (Tim Eddy, DJC, 5/21/07). Prejudice poisons process. Instead of real hearings, we have witnessed a series of infomercials for the architect and his product. Uncomfortable with the real civic issues, the panel limited its scope of inquiry to petty details like reflectivity, tint, and curb cuts. Apparently the Commission was not very proud of its work, for it tried to sneak through its decision over Christmas (12/26). Notices of hearings throughout were at the last minute, if any notice at all! We have yet to see the full report. We requested an extension of the appeal-filing deadline (refused). Public input has been ignored. No due process here. It's been entirely outcome-based, an insult to the public.
Traffic impacts were insufficiently examined. The Council is urged to observe the problems particularly at SW Taylor and Park. It was the developer's very own traffic study that the commission adopted, uncritically. We have protested the dumping of multi-levels of underground parking into narrow busy streets as "Moyer's 14-level Conundrum," (testimony 6/30, 9/20, 12/6). The Commission responded by adding three more levels, making it a 17-level conundrum. A Design Guideline says "protect the pedestrian" (B2). "Reinforce and enhance the pedestrian system," says another (B1). But what is being enhanced is the pedestrian hazard. "Protect the pedestrian from vehicular movement." So where are these protections? We also protested under 3.366.310 the manifest conflicts at Park Avenue loading docks and the MAX line, but to no avail.
View corridors destroyed. Design Guidelines say "size and place new buildings to protect existing views and view corridors" (p. 83). A corridor has been traditionally preserved by the low height of Nordstrom in the interest of openness to the west of Pioneer Square. Is this planning tradition to be thrown to the winds for Moyer's project? Also views south to north, etc. "New buildings alter existing views only to the extent allowed by the city's development standards" (p. 92).
Contradicts Park Avenue Vision. The project totally contradicts this 2004 plan, the definitive document on the area, in both spirit and particulars. For just one example, see Park Block 4 in the 3-D map on pg 4.
Affordable housing. If a Moyer Tower is ever built, the developer should be required to provide three or four levels of affordable apartments. The displacement of affordable housing by projects in this spirit has created a disaster of homelessness in this city. Moyer is directly responsible for homelessness as the owner of the residential structure at Alder and Park, which (like the Esquire and others) was emptied of tenants long ago and has stood idle all these years, while people sleep in doorways..
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