Detail, east Portland photo, courtesy Miles Hochstein / Portland Ground.

For old times' sake
The bojack bumper sticker -- only $1.50!

To order, click here.

Excellent tunes -- free! And on your browser right now. Just click on Radio Bojack!

E-mail us here.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 16, 2005 1:21 PM. The previous post in this blog was Geezer's problem. The next post in this blog is Feel safer?. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



Law and Taxation
How Appealing
TaxProf Blog
Mauled Again
Tax Appellate Blog
A Taxing Matter
Josh Marquis
Native America, Discovered and Conquered
The Yin Blog
Ernie the Attorney
Above the Law
The Volokh Conspiracy
Going Concern
Bag and Baggage
Wealth Strategies Journal
Jim Hamilton's World of Securities Regulation
World of Work
The Faculty Lounge
Lowering the Bar
OrCon Law

Hap'nin' Guys
Tony Pierce
Parkway Rest Stop
Along the Gradyent
Dwight Jaynes
Bob Borden
Dingleberry Gazette
The Red Electric
Iced Borscht
Jeremy Blachman
Dean's Rhetorical Flourish
Straight White Guy
As Time Goes By
Dave Wagner
Jeff Selis
Alas, a Blog
Scott Hendison
The View Through the Windshield
Appliance Blog
The Bleat

Hap'nin' Gals
My Whim is Law
Lelo in Nopo
Attorney at Large
Linda Kruschke
The Non-Consumer Advocate
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place
A Pig of Success
Attorney at Large
Margaret and Helen
Kimberlee Jaynes
Cornelia Seigneur
And Sew It Goes
Mile 73
Rainy Day Thoughts
That Black Girl
Posie Gets Cozy
Cat Eyes
Rhi in Pink
Ragwaters, Bitters, and Blue Ruin
Rose City Journal
Type Like the Wind

Portland and Oregon
Isaac Laquedem
Rantings of a [Censored] Bus Driver
Jeff Mapes
Vintage Portland
The Portlander
South Waterfront
Amanda Fritz
O City Hall Reporters
Guilty Carnivore
Old Town by Larry Norton
The Alaunt
Bend Blogs
Lost Oregon
Cafe Unknown
Tin Zeroes
David's Oregon Picayune
Mark Nelsen's Weather Blog
Travel Oregon Blog
Portland Daily Photo
Portland Building Ads
Portland Food and
Dave Knows Portland
Idaho's Portugal
Alameda Old House History
MLK in Motion

Retired from Blogging
Various Observations...
The Daily E-Mail
Saving James
Portland Freelancer
Furious Nads (b!X)
Izzle Pfaff
The Grich
Kevin Allman
AboutItAll - Oregon
Lost in the Details
Worldwide Pablo
Tales from the Stump
Whitman Boys
Two Pennies
This Stony Planet
1221 SW 4th
I am a Fish
Here Today
What If...?
Superinky Fixations
The Rural Bus Route
Another Blogger
Mikeyman's Computer Treehouse
Portland Housing Blog

Wonderfully Wacky
Dave Barry
Borowitz Report
Stuff White People Like
Worst of the Web

Valuable Time-Wasters
My Gallery of Jacks
Litterbox, On the Prowl
Litterbox, Bag of Bones
Litterbox, Scratch
Ride That Donkey
Singin' Horses
Rally Monkey
Simon Swears
Strong Bad's E-mail

Oregon News
The Oregonian
Portland Tribune
Willamette Week
The Sentinel
Southeast Examiner
Northwest Examiner
Sellwood Bee
Mid-County Memo
Vancouver Voice
Eugene Register-Guard
OPB - Portland
Salem Statesman-Journal
Oregon Capitol News
Portland Business Journal
Daily Journal of Commerce
Oregon Business
Portland Info Net
McMinnville News Register
Lake Oswego Review
The Daily Astorian
Bend Bulletin
Corvallis Gazette-Times
Roseburg News-Review
Medford Mail-Tribune
Ashland Daily Tidings
Newport News-Times
Albany Democrat-Herald
The Eugene Weekly
Portland IndyMedia
The Columbian

The Beatles
Bruce Springsteen
Joni Mitchell
Ella Fitzgerald
Steve Earle
Joe Ely
Stevie Wonder
Lou Rawls

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Garbage time

When they write the history of how Portland went to pot in the early 2000's -- from a unique, livable, family-friendly city to a crowded, overpriced New York wannabe where the California Lexus SUVs go to die -- the South Waterfront concrete tower jungle will be front and center. And in that chapter, tomorrow's an important day.

The City Council is going to pass another tax abatement for a huge apartment tower, but this time, it will be for a building of 300-plus rental units, not condos. The building will pay no property taxes whatsoever for 10 years. The justification for this is that it's a reward to the developer, Trammell Crow, for including low-income housing in the building, but the low-income housing turns out to be laughable. It's 48 studio apartments, at a tiny 480 square feet each, which will rent out at "only" $850 a month.

The rest of the building is going to be way pricier and hella toney. As the Trammell Crow website puts it: "Combining luxury with convenience is what the Alexan brand is all about."

The official estimate of how much this is costing the city's taxpayers is $7.5 million over the 10 years, but that number is so thoroughly cooked that it looks like somebody misprogrammed the microwave. At what I'm told is the going rate of 2.14 percent, that's what the taxes would be on a $35 million building. But the developer says this project's going to cost $70 million to build, and so the property taxes on it should look more like $15 million, or nearly a million and a half bucks a year. (And that's without factoring in the 3 percent annual increase that us mere peons pay.)

How much is the developer losing by including the "bargain" rent units in the plan? How much more rent could it charge on those floors? I'll tell you what, it's a lot less than a million bucks a year. Probably more on the order of a couple of hundred thousand. What a scam.

Fireman Randy's on the case, though, folks. He's already given out a couple of press quotes delicately questioning the deal. I'm sure he'll make his hard-guy face and a little speech about it tomorrow -- maybe even vote against it. But he knows it's going to pass, 4 to 1, or 3 to 1. So he can afford to make a little political hay. It's reminiscent of Damon Stoudamire, the ex-Trail Blazer who knows how to pad his average by racking up statistics during "garbage time." These are games that are already hopeless blowouts, with neither team really playing any more because the outcome is sealed. Stoudamire frequently breaks out of his pot-induced stupor and puts in stellar performances in that setting. "When it doesn't count," a friend of mine is wont to say, "you can count on Damon." So it is with Fireman Randy's "principled stand" on tax abatements.

They're calling this building the "Alexan." That's Greek for "not speaking." It's a fitting name for the project, because the handout it's getting from the City Council is truly unspeakable. I'd love to have been a fly on the wall when Don Mazziotti, Matt Hennessee and the other luminaries at the Portland Development Commission put their contaminated stamp of approval on this one. I'm sure the fine wine flowed that night.

And of course, speaking of the nefarious, no one dare mention the name of the True Visionary who turned a big buck getting this horribly misguided pig greased and slipped through the Porkland system. I'll give you a hint, though: he had trouble abating one thing.

Comments (15)

How good a deal the developer is getting with the proposed tax abatement for the Alexan?

Using numbers from the tribune article, I looked at the deal four ways and all were, shall we say, very good for the developer

1. The abatement is enough to totally pay for a penthouse apartment for each “affordable” unit.

2. The monthly rent for the “affordable” unit is only $0.14, per square foot, less than a penthouse apartment.

3. The landlord’s actual income per square foot for those “affordable” units is about $6.33 per sq foot, over three times that of a penthouse unit. (counting the abatement as income)

4. For giving up $39,318 in rent, the landlord gets a $1,200,000 abatement.

There is a name for the entity on the other side of this kind of deal: SUCKER!!


The future is even brighter for Tramwell Crow, what they are doing is delaying their big money. Don't kid yourself, it will be convereted at great profit to a condo palace just like McCormick Peir (originally built with HUD funding for low income) was as soon as the "incentive" has expired. That's when the real money will be made, after the building has been depreciated so minimal City business taxes are paid and the true financials should be what the building rental profits plus what the condo sale price will yeild or ROI over the time that TC owns the property.

"The rest of the building is going to be way pricier and hella toney."

I'm guessing I'm in the very small minority of your regular readers who recognize - and love - the Cartman reference. Well done!

Using PDC's figures cited by BoJack ($7.5 million over 10 years and 48 units, and a 3% annual increase), that amounts to over $18,000 per unit per year in tax breaks.

That's $38 per square foot, folks!

Add that to the $21 per square foot in rent, and you've got a real nice $59 per square foot place.


How is it that the city allowed the towers to be nearly twice as big as previously zoned and are now considering paying the developers to make them bigger.

In what fiscal world does this make sense.

I can see compensating a restriction but in this "total" picture the city is about to compensate de-restriction.

Clearly the property owner/developers have reaped millions from the zoning changes and added building sizes.

In addition to all of the tax funded infrastucture for their development.

Does the council recognize this?

I don't hear or read any of them acknowledging it.

Will this even be mentioned in today's hearing?

This is a great project.

But it's a terrible tax abatement and a terrible deal for the city.

And, of course Jack, you would be all for this project if there weren't any tax abatements involved, right?

Most of the tax abatement deals going on in Portland are bad news. The developers get even richer, while we "little people" scramble to make up th difference in the lost tax dollars for the general fund. This tax abatement crap as played here in Portland is wrong wrong wrong and should be discontinued immediately, except for developing and encouraging people to move into "marginal areas".

Having attended today's hearing I can say the council knows full well the city and public will not ge getting what it wants for this tax abatement.
Unfortunatly Sten made it clear he will be voting for the abatement anyway simply because they created the policy a year ago. ?(%#@! Come on Erik. Wise up. Potter too.
48 little studio apartments renting for $870.00/month and only for the 10 years of the abatement is not a good deal for anyone but the developer.
Trammel Crow revealed their insurance company invester is only interested in an apartment tower as a long term income property.
Not condo's. They also stated their concerns about the condo market being flooded.
Meaning the apartment tower will be built without the abatement. Fewer studio's of course but higher value and more property tax revenue than the speculation suggests.
There seems to be an emerging concensus that the revenue will be more like $15 million during th ten years if they decline the abatement.
That's some real money for other ways to provide affordable housing.
The council should definetly deny the applicant and watch the tower be built and revenue flow.
It's a no brainer Erik.
At the same time the city is discovering the outcome of NO they can fine tune their policy to fit their newly learned realitites.

I love it that the developers "need" tax abatements in order to convince them to build, and then when the units go up for sale, they sell out in about 10 minutes, thus proving that the site was top-notch real estate, and that nobody needed financial incentive to build.

Second, in what crazy world is a 450 sq. foot studio (for $850/mo) "affordable"? That's not affordable housing, that's small housing for rich, single members of the "creative class." Nobody with one kid, much less a spouse and several kids, is going to want a studio with 450 sq. ft., no matter what the cost.

How many of you actually go to Council meetings? or PDC meetings?

This is not meant as a *snark* comment, because these people (council and PDC) are supposed to be looking out for the interest of all taxpayers and the welfare of the entire city - not just the real-estate developers. But those developers attend those meetings and meet with the council folks and PDC folks on their own time, too.

No wonder that even the well-informed citizen that objects to such deals doesn't have a chance.

Great post but it is useless without legal reform.

The problem is the lack of judicial oversight. If graft is conducted in Pioneer Square with a megaphone so as to provide "transparency" then anything goes.

The economics of Affordable Housing and Economic Development are all upside down. They are the happy-face PR phrases for strategic corruption.

Resource allocation decisions in the Soviet Union were made by typical politicians that were accountable to their preferred clients. Japan has a habit of rewarding preferred clients too. That is, criticism is not dependent upon some theoretical notions of economic thought but just drab measurements of economic inefficiency and waste that reach some threshold beyond the tolerance level of the locals, regardless of their political system.

I would prefer incremental restrictions on individual decisions rather than racing to a point where the only solution is some sort of wholesale house cleaning.

The objective and responsibility of the council and PDC should be to make sure the city's and taxpayer's position "pencils out" not Trammel Crow's.
Unfortunately the PDC acts like the Portland "Developers" Commission

If they want to provide affordable housing for families to live in SoWa I have an idea.
Instead of giving TC millions for 10 years of little or nothing.
Deny the tax abatemtent.
Thay'll build the apartment tower and pay the property taxes. More than the $7.5 million too.

Take that money and build a 48, two bedroom unit, low rise in SoWa. It will cost less than the $7.5 million.
Take applications in a lottery from moderate to low income earners.

Give away the units to the qualified 48 lucky ones.
They will own the units and pay property taxes but pay zero rent or house payments. That's affordable and good housing.

I am not seriously proposing this free housing,
but this demonstrates how ludicrous the tax abatement is.

The policy of providing tax breaks for so-called middle income people, you know, people who want and can afford a $800 studio, comes from the Portland Business Alliance. They fought for it for years, with some success. Unfortunately the man who knows the most about the policy passed away recently at an unnatural age, God rest his soul.

Most affordable housing diehards are pushing for help for the truly needy, like people who live on less than a grand a month.

The PBA didn't show up to defend their policy, basically leaving the developer to twist in the wind. Without the PBA, who will advocate for tax breaks for the upwardly mobile?

These deals take more than a month to put together, and the proposal was based on the rules in place at the time.

What probably will happen, and should happen, is that the tax abatement policy will be scaled back so that it only applies to the truly affordable units that the market could never provide on its own.

""truly affordable units that the market could never provide on its own.""

The way it stands now the proposed tax abatement of $7.5 million could do more if the city simply spent that amount buying 48 of the cheapest condos in the other towers.

48 @ $156,000.00 is $7.5 million

The current abatement will expire in 10 years leaving no remaining tax break an no subsidized
units at all.

In year 11 the city is out $7.5 million and will have nothing to show for it.

Smart move.

""When it doesn't count," a friend of mine is wont to say, "you can count on Damon." So it is with Fireman Randy's "principled stand" on tax abatements."

As of tonight, the abatement will fail 3-2 tomorrow.


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
MarchigĂĽe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
GascĂłn, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
MarchigĂĽe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria DermoČ—t - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

Clicky Web Analytics