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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Back in the O-zone

It must be because Randy Gragg is back. The O is losing touch with reality again.

First there was the story the other day that said that the Saturday Market vendors are fine with being ousted from under the Burnside Bridge, so long as the move isn't too far. Commenters here who identified themselves as vendors take issue with that.

Today we're being told (scrolll down) that a City Council vote against the Goose Hollow condo scam would be perceived by people like Tim Boyle of Columbia Sportswear as "anti-business":

This week will tell us a little more about what kind of Portland this City Council wants. The council is expected to cast up-or-down votes on the future of Linnton's riverfront and a Goose Hollow condo tower.

In Linnton, it's a battle for 36 riverfront acres. Neighbors, led by Pat Wagner, want housing. Industrial businesses want, well, industry to remain.

In Goose Hollow, developer Paul Krueger is taking creativity to new heights. He wants to transfer unused development rights above a Lloyd District building to build an even taller condo tower at 1715 S.W. Salmon St. Neighbors are split on the idea. Which way council members side will show how they feel about the still super-charged condo construction.

Depending how they fall, the votes may also give more yarn to Tim Boyle and the "Portland is anti-business" crowd.

On the Goose Hollow deal, the reporter's got it bass ackwards. There's a difference between condo monkey business and real business. Giving away still more of Portland's money and character to unscrupulous developers is about as "anti-business" as you can get. If Portland would stop the freebies for the real estate sharpies and start using its resources to support (or at least stop hassling) real businesses like Columbia Sportswear, I'm sure the Tim Boyles of the world would applaud.

Comments (1)

Jack, just look at the Winkler deal in that same article:

The Oregonian The city is close to a deal with developer Jim Winkler to turn a grassy lot at Killingsworth Street into four stories of 51 condos.

The Oregonian Winkler's deal would require $4 million in city money

JK: OK, its arithmetic time: $4,000,000 / 51 = $78,431 each.

The Oregonian The prices will bottom out at $145,000 for a one bedroom and top out at $368,000.
JK: Suppose one-half of the units are $145k and the rest are market rate. Then the math is $4 mil/25 or $160k each. Well, well, that is more than the selling price of the low priced units. Looks like Winkler expects the city to foot the whole cost of these units, then sell them for a tidy $145k each. (looks, to me, to be a very good payoff for his campaign donations to the city council.)

One other little detail: its on the MAX line therefore it is eligible for the TOD property tax exemption. So we are paying $4,000,000 to build a tax exempt project. Another good reason to sunset the PDC.

I'm sure the PDC and the planning zealots consider this a low price to pay for density. Hey all you lovers of density out there: here is yet another example of how much money we have to take from schools, police and fire department to pay for you dream world high density city.


Posted by: jim karlock at August 23, 2006 07:09 AM

You are right on target with you comments again Jack. I know the tipping point with the business community is the Linnton decision,

"Linnton conflict goes to council
‘Village’ fans expected to pack hearing on plan to change zoning
By Jim Redden
The Portland Tribune Jul 17, 2006
The emotion-charged debate over the future of North Portland’s Linnton neighborhood moves to the City Council on Wednesday with a rare evening hearing on whether to allow a mixed-use development to be built along the west bank of the Willamette River near fuel transportation and storage facilities

Two local developers also are interested in the outcome. Homer Williams, the driving force behind the Pearl District and South Waterfront, has announced he will build a mixed-use development on the site if the council changes the comprehensive plan and underlying zoning. Developer John Beardsley hopes to build an alternative fuel processing plant on the site if the council retains the industrial zoning.

AND SURPRISE SURPRISE whose name pops out in the article, but the same cast of characters.

This is issue that most business people feel will tell whether Portland is a lost cause to condo mania. Building the infrastructure to bridge the massive underground gas pipelines, and clean up the area will make SoWhat look like a cake walk.

That is not to say the the folks in Linnton haven't been worked over by the system and don't deserve better. When the Highway was expanded it cut out the heart of their community. They should be compensated somehow or relocated.

Posted by: John Capradoe at August 23, 2006 08:27 AM

At a presentation to the East Portland Chamber of Commerce a representative of PDC stated that, in their view, affordable housing development IS economic development.

My question: What housing is affordable without a job?

Posted by: Dave Lister at August 23, 2006 08:29 AM

In all fairness some of this makes sense, after all all of the aging boomers, won't be able to mow thier lawns and many want to downsize and travel, if thier pensions don't disappear like the United Airlines Pilots or US Steel workers.

I wonder how much of the public pension funds are in REITs and the Utilities which used to be the "widows and orphans" mainstay of long term investment have been pillaged, that are supporting this "retirement class" and I too wonder what will happen when as Dave says, no one has a job.

Posted by: John Capradoe at August 23, 2006 09:02 AM

John Capradoe:
"I wonder how much of the public pension funds are in REITs and the Utilities which used to be the "widows and orphans" mainstay of long term investment have been pillaged, that are supporting this "retirement class..."

Could you please clarify? Im kinda confused on this statement (I will admit, im not the brightest bulb in the lamp)

Posted by: gl at August 23, 2006 11:38 AM

As a private citizen, I can see why people may wish to live in in a high density, mixed use area, and have no problemw ith a city or local governemnt zoning to promote that kind of devlopment.

But I am not sure I understand why that government should be using public funds to subsidize for-profit real estate developments.

Planning and zoning are one thing, and I respect in concept Portland's attempts to keep its downtown vital by making sure there are enough residents nearby to support all the business there, but even someone like myself who has "drunk the koolaid" questions using public funds to basically pump up the profit margins for condo developers.

Posted by: atlanta scott at August 23, 2006 12:58 PM

No Problem gl, I explain but first I want to say Atlanta Scott, BINGO.

REIT stands for Real Estate Investment Trust, when stocks were not doing so well these REIT's were formed where things like condo's and other real estate is bought in hot areas and the capital grows in value, just like stock, and it is purchased in lieu of stock by many managed funds. The "risk" is spread out by the trust usually by investing in diverse areas. One of the more visible PERS backed real estate deals about 10 or 15 years ago I think now was when the pension fund backed the commercial development of an airline repair hanger at PDX. It went defunct, and PERS lost the money it had invested.

On the "Widows and Orphans" Stock I am dating myself but before the Enron's of the world successfully conned and bribed thier way to deregulation, we had a system of regulation that had been in place since the last generation of Robber Barons who controled or monpolized energy in the early 20th century. This reform led to strickly controlled utilities, before the days of collecting profits and calling them taxes, where the best and brightest served on oversight boards and actually could do the math and determine how much it should cost to operate, and so the private utilites did so with a guarenteed profit of around 6%, hence thier stock was not very sexy, but stable and since everyone uses power, and we tend use more every year, it was the investment of choice for trustees of those retirees, widows, and orphans who got a little more return than T-bills or bond, a secure assets, and liquidity.

Posted by: John Capradoe at August 23, 2006 06:34 PM


Im an Investment Banker, so Im familiar with REITS and "Widow and Orphan" stocks.

I was confused as to the pillaging of the REITS and Stocks, Both traded in capital markets which makes the pillaging null.
I think what you may be trying to describe is more along the lines of a private placement for PERS. The private placements that PERS suscribes to will operate in an entirely different arena then a conventional REIT.

Posted by: gl at August 23, 2006 11:37 PM


The concern I had that like the dot.coms and Utility Stocks, REIT's with the run up in real estate prices may not be as safe as once thought. I worry about the viability or sustainability of the Cities. I wonder why we have to both subsidize these Condos developments and tax abate them. You obviously have a more grounded financial background, with the Automotive industry floundering, not only the Enrons but utilities like Montana Power pilaged. Many moons ago I started out in the Automotive industry, and its massive vertical integration, particularly the almost monopolistic grip GM had on the American Car Market prior to the first Arab Oil Embargo. To keep profits up they internationalized, their parts supply and much of that vertical integration so that the innovation in the supply chain became foreign. Then when enough of the components became foreign, so did the automobiles in the 80's.

The "retirement" industry supporting our Condo Citise is only as good as the pension funds from business, and CalPERS, and the Chinese purchase of our T-bills as best I can tell.

Posted by: John Capradoe at August 24, 2006 01:31 AM

[Posted as indicated; restored later.]


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