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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 4, 2006 7:18 AM. The previous post in this blog was Sounds about right. The next post in this blog is Don't hit the snooze button too many times. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Monday, December 4, 2006

Linchpin to buffness

When Portland taxpayers were signed up by Commissioners Sten, Saltzman and the rest to spend hundreds of millions to develop the SoWhat district, we were promised high-tech jobs and a mixed neighborhood to go with the aerial tram [rim shot]. Plus, it would keep OHSU from packing up and moving to Hillsboro.

Instead of what was promised, we got toney condos, a $7 million patch of grass for poodle poop, and one "medical" building. Ah, but what a building it is, including a "wellness center" that's as cushy as a health club, only more so. Here's a piece of an e-mail that went around to some OHSU folks last week:

This weekend, one of the major program areas opens on the south waterfront in Portland. It is the Center for Health and Healing. The first two plus floors of this building is m a r c h wellness. It is managed by the School of Nursing. I feel proud that I have had a great part in this: the literature review, the brand and brand frame, the program assessments, the meeting with the public and clinicians to see what they want and what they think their clients can use for support, choosing equipment, hiring the program leaders. It is a state of the art medical wellness center. It is not your typical health club, although it has all of the nice features of very good health clubs. There is a lane pool, large jacuzzi and medical soaking pool. There are large locker rooms, four large and medium size fitness rooms, state of the art Life Fitness equipment and a wonderful SPA. I found one of the best aestheticians in our community as part of the core team. We will have nurse coaches and specifically skilled and credentialed trainers. We will have core memberships and a medical membership.We will have programming to include yoga, tai chi, dance, lectures on cardiac health, preventive risks, heartiness, and a teaching kitchen. One of the public open houses is this Sunday from 1 PM to 3 PM. Tell all of your friends and bring your families.
You wonder how many of those "core memberships" will come from the ranks of the condo dwellers. In any event, it's a good thing we spent the billion down there. The city would have fallen apart if the bikini waxes, tai chi lessons, and cooking classes had been held in Hillsboro.

Comments (21)

It's not really a health club for condo dwellers - it's a wellness center? Beautiful. Finally some transparency on this project. I love the "medical soaking pool." Too bad it's the taxpayers who got soaked.

New definition of biotech job: Towell boy for the soaking pool.

Lets see, A BILLION in city money and they expect 5000 condos.

That's 200,000 per condo in city money!!!

Sure am glad high density is so much cheaper than sprawl.

At least it keeps them all in one place.

I found one of the best aestheticians in our community as part of the core team.

Huh?? Thats just a freakin' glorified cosmetologist..
So now all the condo dwellers get classes on how to put on makeup?

Oh, we out here in Washington County will have the tram crowd out our way before too long. Just a matter of time -- heck, even trams get old.

Did they ever name the tram cars?

I am going with "bait" and "switch"

The city + PDC are no better then filthy, lemon-lot, used car salespeople.

If I recall this morning's Big OH! correctly the Tram (rimshot) will save 93,000 gallons of gasoline a year.
Let's see the tram (rimshot) was over budget some $42 million.
Math quiz: if gas is $5 a gallon how long will it take for the savings in gas to make up for the cost overrun?

The Nickle

Anthony, don't you EVER badmouth a used car salesperson again. They are far better than ANY Portland mayor, councilman, or PDC goober. Afterall, when you walk onto a car lot you know the salesperson is going to try to sell you a car.

When you go to the Portland City Council meeting you NEVER know what is going to be forced down your throat. And even if you know what's on the sales lot you are never told the REAL price. "Honestly, we can build the tram (which you don't want) for $19 million, give or take a few dollars."

I agree wholeheartedly with Carol. Used car salesmen are nowhere near as bad as our local leaders when they're at their worst.

Just to keep the dollar numbers closer to reality:

The PoopPark cost over $8M after land purchase, parks bureau planning costs, PDC staff time, toxic site cleanup, demolition of Public Storage, and regrading and planting "quack grass", and outline the park with a sidewalk

From the present proposed NM budget according to information given to the NM URAC, the public cost is over $1.5BILLION assuming a 20 year urban renewal time span. And most likely the time span will be extended like all the other ten URA's; then the taxpayer cost will even be higher.

Welcome to the real world.

And furthermore, the local Y on Barbur provides almost all the services as does OHSU Health Center. OHSU is being subsidized by us and the Y attempts to stay alive. OHSU has a better PR department that puts fancy names to a "hot tub". And the Oregonian eats it up, just like Randy Graggs article this weekend praising the OHSU building but forgetting all the subsidies that the taxpayers put into the building, like the $5MILLION from the URA budget for making the bulding compatible for research space (but where are the researchers?) Thus Graggs figures of the building's sq. footage costs are reduced to make it all wonderful.

The PoopPark cost over $8M after land purchase, parks bureau planning costs, PDC staff time, toxic site cleanup, demolition of Public Storage, and regrading and planting "quack grass", and outline the park with a sidewalk

Didn't they also have to pay to move the existing tenants of the storage units?

Thus Graggs figures of the building's sq. footage costs are reduced to make it all wonderful.

But it makes it funnier. I think Gragg is actually doing parody now.

Jack Bog, I think you are right. I'll call Public Storages attorney to verify that "small cost".

You would think that someone in the local mainstream media would do that. Just as you would think that they would be reporting by now how many dollars the city will be paying every year to subsidize the ongoing operation of PHART.

But they don't. Part inattention, part struggle against the internet, part complacency.


Your right.

I guess a salesman couldn't swindle someone working part-time at Burger King into taking out a 3rd mortgage to buy a Bentley for a millionaire.

I'm one of those people --living at Riverplace at the time-- who joined the YMCA at Riverplace. They abruptly shut it down when it became clear that it's "non-profit" status for this high end club was unwarranted and they were being sued. (It later became the private Riverplace Athletic Club...)

You gotta wonder how the Willamette Athletic Club, near OHSU's facility, views this new non tax-paying competitor?

Also unmentioned so far...all the staff et al using the existing gym ON the hill that will now be closed down. Guess they can take the Tram to go work out?

Lee: Just to keep the dollar numbers closer to reality:
the public cost is over $1.5BILLION assuming a 20 year urban renewal time span

JK: Ok, I stand corrected:
Lets see, A BILLION and a half in city money and they expect 5000 condos.

That's $300,000 per condo in city money!!!
You can buy a damn nice house for that in Vancouver.

Sure am glad high density is so much cheaper than sprawl.


Frank's story of the Riverplace Y made me think of when I worked at the Metro Center Y in the 80's and a new director from Los Angeles was hired by the Board to replace the retiring director who had run the Y from it's old days in downtown on Taylor Street to the Metro Center on Barbur. Drunk on it's success with the Metro Center when Cornerstone development asked the Y to manage it's Riverplace facility the Y jumped in to a long term lease figuring it would fill to capacity like the Metro Center did even before the doors opened. It didn't though and the Y jumped ship after only 6 months but it was stuck with making payments on the lease. The Y was also dealing with a Gresham Fitness Center owner demanding the State revoke the Y's tax exempt status upset after hearing about a possible sweet heart deal being made between the Y and Tri-met to build a Y fitness center along it's yet to be built Max Line on Tri-Met owned property in Gresham and the trend toward high end fitness centers dominating the fitness market in Portland (Metro and Riverplace). The Y lost it's tax exempt status and began paying property taxes while it fought to appeal the decision (which it eventually won). Losing out on revenue from Riverplace but paying lease payments, and trying to demonstrate it's non-profit status by handing out scholarships for membership to anybody who walked in the door and asked for one (some of whom were homeless people who took advantage of the showers and spa facilities while camping in the woods behind the Y as well in property the Y owned on the east side of Barbur. The Y's brief success and good reputation with the Metro Center began to go in to decline from that point on.

The Y's current problems are reported here.

My own lousy experience at the Metro Y was discussed here.


Whilst at a perinatology appointment a couple of weeks ago, I quizzed staff (not the docs) about the tram. The consensus was that they'd never end up using it, because they couldn't afford the new gym on the waterfront. So, maybe a good deal for the docs, but not such a good deal for the rank-and-file.


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