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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 28, 2006 7:40 AM. The previous post in this blog was Mercy, mercy me (the ecology). The next post in this blog is Cogen, Frederick, and Chasse. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Recycling Sunday's fairy tale

Drop what you're doing. You absolutely have to read this: a Q&A between Randy Gragg of The Oregonian and Pearl District developer Bob Gerding. It's another truly memorable piece of journalism -- so patently sycophantic that it borders on the obscene.

The yuppification of the Portland Armory is all about the environment, you see:

The environmental ethic, the sustainability ethic began back then in a bigger way in the civic consciousness of such things as the Bottle Bill and the public beaches and the Oregon view, in general, of protecting and nurturing the environment -- of stewardship.
This is the same hokum that Gragg was selling on Sunday. Now we see that it came straight from the developer's mouth. And we get to read it again. As if repetition will somehow make it true.
I hope it's a leading light for other arts organizations around the country, that the process we are starting will be a new model.
God help us, no. The Gerding Theater has three possible outcomes: It will suck the life out of the Performing Arts Center (the way the Pearl District has sucked the life out of downtown in general); it will fail and require a taxpayer bailout; or both. Thanks, Bob, Vera, Sam, and Erik.

Comments (21)

So Jack, based on your last comment, should everyone in Portland live in Irvington in a 20's style Bungalow, or Craftsman home, drive two cars, commute 15-25 miles to work every day, and shun downtown revitalizaton for Fast Food chains and Walmart on 82nd avenue? The Theater was probably a bit much, but saying the Pearl sucked the life out of Portland is a bit much, at least you could have said the SoWA sucked the life out of SW Portland...

The jury is still out on the Gerding... hopefully.

...to the unusual financing that brought it to fruition.

That line reminds me of one of those mortgage ads I keep hearing on the radio. They've always got some new scheme working to get me into that house for less than I'm paying in rent. This is just another example. Like the rest of the recent real estate finance boom, this is going to end very badly.

Jack: The Gerding Theater has three possible outcomes: It will suck the life out of the Performing Arts Center (the way the Pearl District has sucked the life out of downtown in general); it will fail and require a taxpayer bailout; or both. Thanks, Bob, Vera, Sam, and Erik.
JK: What is for certain is that it is yet another tax parasite in Portland that we all pay for in less money for vital services.

Bob: So Jack, based on your last comment, should everyone in Portland live in Irvington in a 20's style Bungalow, or Craftsman home,
JK: Bungalow and Craftsman homes are a lot more livable than Homer’s holes in the Pearl. Cheaper too and they don’t suck tax money off of the rest of the city.

Bob: drive two cars, commute 15-25 miles to work every day,
JK: What is wrong with being a typical American - do you somehow consider yourself better than everyone else because of how you live (assuming that you actually live the way you advocate, unlike some leaders of the smart growth relegion)?

Bob: and shun for Fast Food chains and Walmart on 82nd avenue?
JK: I see you have lots of money, probably from a job at PDC or the planning department, to waste on fine dining and Nordstom’s. The rest of us have to live on ordinary incomes and appreciate low cost sources of needed things.

Bob: The Theater was probably a bit much,
JK: Delete “probably” and we agree.

Bob: but saying the Pearl sucked the life out of Portland is a bit much, at least you could have said the SoWA sucked the life out of SW Portland
JK: They are both millionaire yuppie playgrounds (compete with toy trains) paid for by denying basic city services to the rest of the city. Only measure 5 prevented the city from raising our taxes to pay for that garbage. They are both big ugly condo farms for tax parasites.

Thanks
JK

JK- Sorry, you're going to have a tough time defending the fast food industry. You can eat cheaper and healthier if you don't take the path of least resistance.

On that note, do you support public schools allowing Taco Bell and McDonalds into their cafeterias? Just wondering...

"The Gerding Theater has three possible outcomes: It will suck the life out of the Performing Arts Center (the way the Pearl District has sucked the life out of downtown in general); it will fail and require a taxpayer bailout; or both. Thanks, Bob, Vera, Sam, and Erik."

I have this theory that in 20 years every civic debacle in Portland will be a McMennamins brew pub.

saying the Pearl sucked the life out of Portland is a bit much

The city audit of the PDC made quite clear that the jobs created in the Pearl District were at the expense of downtown.

Downtown/Waterfront: - 2,017 jobs
River District: + 2,273 jobs

TKrueg: JK- Sorry, you're going to have a tough time defending the fast food industry.
JK: No, I’m not. Do you want me to dictate how you eat? Then don’t try to dictate how others eat. Simple. Besides you can get healthy food at most of them. Just avoid the triple deck bacon cheeseburgers.

Thanks
JK

Since a line by line breakdown was the preffered format;

JK: Bungalow and Craftsman homes are a lot more livable than Homer’s holes in the Pearl. Cheaper too and they don’t suck tax money off of the rest of the city.
Bob: Irvington is one of the most expensive places to live in Portland, and not a lot cheaper then the Pearl. Do a Real Estate seach and compare the Price per suare foot. Unless someone has 100,oo to renovate a home with one bathroom and an unfinished basement, I don't see a lot of lower income people moving into Irvington, but ohh wait it's all the Pearl's fault. Or, let's build out Banks Oregon and put a bunch of cheap housing developments (Mcmansions?) and sell them cheap cars so they can can commute down 26 every morning and buy gas twice a week. Do you even realize that only a few buildings in the Pearl are tax exempt, you're misinformed if you think otherwise.


JK: What is wrong with being a typical American - do you somehow consider yourself better than everyone else because of how you live (assuming that you actually live the way you advocate, unlike some leaders of the smart growth relegion)?
Bob: Great way to support the war in Iraq. Wasting gas and putting more cars on our roads is a 'typical american'? Did you get that quote from a Bush speech? Good argument here, at least you could have mentioned that you own a gun as well. I'm not better then everyone else, I use public transportation (including the Toy Cars) and limit my driving to errands on the weekends.

JK: I see you have lots of money, probably from a job at PDC or the planning department, to waste on fine dining and Nordstom’s. The rest of us have to live on ordinary incomes and appreciate low cost sources of needed things.
Bob: Another good generalization, I'm not only better then you, but I have a lot of money. Jack rips on everything in the Pearl and he doesn't seem that happy with the eateries in his hood (he even hates the athletic field they installed), so he must go somewhere to eat? 82nd was just a guess, since he uses a car and all. I go to Taco Bell on occasion, I just don't drive out to 82nd to do it.

JK: Delete “probably” and we agree.
Bob: Alright!!! We almost agreed on something

JK: They are both millionaire yuppie playgrounds (compete with toy trains) paid for by denying basic city services to the rest of the city. Only measure 5 prevented the city from raising our taxes to pay for that garbage. They are both big ugly condo farms for tax parasites.
Bob: Another great argument..'Millionaire Yuppie Playground'..love it sounds really catchy. Seriously, great stereotype. That's fine if you don't like condos, but per household income of Irvington residents is higher then the Pearl. I would bet money on it. I agree the city has not taken the apropriate measures to effectively manage growth and services and made some poor choices in the process, but they are tryng harder then you give them credit for.

"I hope it's a leading light for other arts organizations around the country, that the process we are starting will be a new model."

To Paris Las Vegas, with love

JK-

Not sure how I'm trying to dictate what you eat, but...

Overprocessed, additive/filler/preservative-laden food, prison-grade meats... all promoted through 9-digit marketing budgets to our kids. Yeah, throwing a salad on the menu excuses that behavior or their lack of responsibility. You never answered my question about fast food in our schools, by the way.

People are brand-loyal to these carpetbagger businesses, but it's only because there's hardly a choice in many areas. Maybe that's due to the homogenous strip-development philosophies you tirelessly champion in these forums.

That's fine if you don't like condos, but per household income of Irvington residents is higher then the Pearl. I would bet money on it.

I dunno...are homes in Irvington selling for $500-$700 per sq ft, like the Pearl?

Takes some serious income to pay for stuff like that. Sure isnt "affordable housing".

I hesitate to join in the hijacking of this post to a discussion of Irvington, but I don't think the taxpayers of Portland had to subsidize Irvington anywhere near what they've shelled out to Mr. Gerding and his cronies.

I think when he says the Pearl sucked Portland dry, my interpretation is that a lot of PDC money ends up in a couple of places (yes, Lents also), Downtown and the Pearl.

This means eveyone pays for two neighborhoods, whereas all the other neighborhoods do without (road repairs / parks / jails). The Pearl has expensive condos (which really shoudln't need help) and Downtown which is evacuated outside of 8-5.

Now they want to pour another $200M downtown while a lot of the retail space is dying (compared to WashSq, Clack TownCtr and Bridgeport). So justify the priorities for me.

I'll take a stab at junk food in our schools: Forget about it.

Portland Public Schools got rid of all sodas in the drink machines in high school this summer -- only 100 percent fruit juice and water is sold now. Got rid of fatty non-nutritious snacks in machines at the high schools, too (took the snack machines out of middle schools in summer 2005). Cookies at most once a week in elementary and middle school (sorry kids) and no branded foods: No Pizzicato slices or Subway sandwiches. High schools still serve some french fries, but don't even try to super-size it. You get 3 ounces of fries, max. And you can't go through the line and get only fries, or only a slice. We no longer serve a la carte items, just full meals, which include a trip through the salad bar for all the fruits and veggies you want.

Kids are only in school for half the days of the calendar year, and only for lunch and maybe breakfast. We can't control what kids eat in off hours (and as a mom, I know how tempting it is to go to the drive-through window instead of cooking every night), but Portland Public Schools is actually becoming a national leader in the effort to improve kids' nutrition.

Sarah Carlin Ames, Portland Public Schools

Of course the Pearl sucked the life out of downtown. Each new little "yuppie-playground" spells a deathknoll for an actually useful urban renewal project. If I were Mayor I'd be ashamed of downtown, it's dirty and depressing and it's full of beggers, drug addicts, etc. especially around Pioneer Square (the core of downtown). Poor downtown, I lived down there from 88-92 and I loved it. Downtown still had a lot of charm back then. Now I dread and actively avoid going downtown. Who wants to be hit up for money by scowling adoloscents over and over again?

Jack is right, Downtown has mostly been left to get along on what crumbs it can snatch from the Pearl/Sowhat banquet. It's only gonna get worse.

Lily- I actually agree with your stance, (even Jack's job fact had some truth to it) too much money is focused on areas that benefit the few and not the masses. I think systematically spreading out PDC funds around greater Portland makes a lot of sense. The Central Eastside Industrial district, and St Johns are prime examples of areas who could use an influx of development. I absolutely agree that City Hall fell asleep the last half of Vera's reign and let downtown erode to where it has today. Potter isn't doing enough to impact the changes to the status quo. I will say that downtwon's erosion has more to do with a lack of business growth, then development efforts. If Portland doesn't due more to attract businesses (or what they shouldn't do; what they did to Columbia Sportswear was a crime), or help small business thrive, then it won't matter if we live in Irvington, or the Pearl, they'll be no work for anyone, and no PDC tax dollars to waste anyways.

CondoBob said: "per household income of Irvington residents is higher then [sp.] the Pearl. I would bet money on it."


You would be correct. According to the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council website, the estimated median household income in the Pearl census tract (#0051.00) is $50,369, while the same figure from the Irvington census tract (#0025.01) is $105,059.

I would guess that this could be partially explained by the relatively high number of renter households in the Pearl, which was around %50 percent in 2000.

But my guess is that the little oversight of allowing non-millionaires into the Pearl district will be corrected in the South Waterfront, where there was an abominably poor effort of planning for affordable housing, in my opinion.

I would have to agree that the Pearl district appears "soul-less" to me, at least from an architectural point of view. But I don't spend much time there.

And 82nd Avenue has far more eating options than just fast food: the Vietnamese, Burmese, Malay, and Mexican are plentiful, affordable, and good. Oh, and we have mass transit too, and bike lanes, and walkable neighborhoods. My pedestrian commute to work is 20 minutes, 1-way.

Best,

Mark

Oh, and I neglected to mention that I went to the FFIEC site to prove CondoBob wrong about the relative income levels (I expected the numbers to be far more similar) -- and was surprised at the results.

Mark-

I'm impressed with your research efforts and insights. I would never think any less of someone living out near 82nd avenue, I grew up about 20 blocks away, and I have a sibling who lives fairly close by. That's great that you walk to work! I walk as much as I can as well. My only point in bringing up 82nd was more my disapointment on how development can go so wrong in an area where there's nothing but car dealerships, fast food chains, and Big box reatilers for miles. There are plenty of good places to eat and shop along 82nd, but they get much harder to find every year. When I was growing up 82nd was much more of a busy street with plenty of locally owned business and eating establishments(Ah Fong's comes to mind), but over the last twenty years I'm embarrased to drive out there. How many more used car dealerships can they put on one street?

I'm not sure I would call the Pearl 'soulless' but there are some sterile aspets to it, and there's no way I would have approved some of the crap Hoyt Street put up if I was in charge. If we use this type of thinking then I really think that SoWa will be the Tualatin of the 21st century, instead of McMansions (I know Jack loves that term) we'll have McBuildings, kind of like areas of China or the close in subrubs of Paris where they built massive apartment buildings to house everyone....and twenty years later it looks like crap. We'll either have to get denser, or start becoming the next Houston, Atlanta, Dallas, LA..ect..ect.. Time will tell.

Mark- Could those income figures be slightly skewed due to the fact that in the Pearl there are a lot of single people (ie:1 person-households) versus 2 income families in Irvington?


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