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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Shining Star for you to see

Real life has been getting in the way of recreational reading and blogging the last several days, but in the wee smalls this morning we finally got a look through this month's edition of The Hollywood Star News, our best source for Northeast Portland neighborhood goings-on. As usual, we came away with a few extra points on the systolic. Among the stories:

-- Some clowns on Northeast 10th are planning to take a standard 50-by-100 lot and stick four 3½-story housing units on it. It's so hideously out-of-place and misguided an idea that I'm embarrassed to live in a city where we're even talking about it. Unfortunately, the horrified neighbors will probably have to fight the city as well as the hopeless owners tooth and nail. (In the same story, there was also a rehash of this atrocity currently planned for Northeast 15th.)

-- The Burnside Bridgehead development is still going nowhere, but there are apparently some rumblings about the builders trying to sneak a big-box store back into the plans. They're calling it "high-profile retail," but a Home Depot by any other name would still blow. As we've noted here before, the favored developers on this project have had more than a fair chance to make their proposal fly, and they haven't. It's time for the Portland Development Commission to declare it dead and start all over. Come on, Rosenbaum and Kadri -- stop playing footsie with these guys and get real.

-- The streetcar weasels are quietly deciding where those condo-selling toys are and aren't going to go (if Portland can get them all built before it declares municipal bankruptcy). Recently nixed off the list of potential future routes were, among other streets, Northeast 21st, 24th, 27th, and 33rd near where we live. Given that all the hapless property owners anywhere near the streetcar get whacked by having to pay beaucoup extra taxes for the privilege, we are darned glad to be left out of that particular Sam the Tram wet dream.

-- Meanwhile, in a full-page real estate ad, we see that somebody is asking $282,500 for a 1,067-square-foot condo at 44th and Halsey. That's $264.76 a square foot for an apartment with "classic 30's charm," near the freeway offramp with the beggars. Sometimes I think we're all bozos on this bus.

There are lots of lighter features in the Star, as usual, but you won't find hard-core neighborhood coverage like theirs anywhere else. If you live in inner Northeast or North Portland, you owe it to yourself to find a copy of this free rag and dig in. It ain't on the intertubes -- ya gotta do the dead tree thing -- but it's worth it.

Comments (11)

Nice firesign theater reference.

was there a picture of the planned building in hollywood star news?

looks like that lot is about 250 feet north of a 14(?) story building. so its not out of scale to some of its neighbors.

the lot is zoned R1, so there shouldn't be too much of a problem there. the alternative design overlay on that property is very compatible with using vacant lots as a building site.

looks like it hasn't passed the historic design review yet, and it needs a variance for height.

i bet it gets stalled there.

Re: Bridgehead - the numbers just don't work with the popular proposals that have been pushed for by the neighborhoods. I think the question we should be asking is: do we want that site developed or not? If so, how soon? If soon, then it can't be what the neighbors ideally want, e.g. live/work flex space, neighborhood retail & affordable housing being at the top of that list. The numbers are what they are. Neighborhood retail & local cafes can pay maybe $14-17/rsf. The cost to build requires rental rates in excess of $25/rsf NNN. For that location, it's a stretch imagining even high profile retail will be tempted to the otherwise untested site. Nevertheless, if anyone can pay the freight, it's probably high profile retail. Again the question: How soon do we want the site developed, and the jobs/tax base that comes with it? Sorry - it's just econ 101.

The lot on NW 10th is zoned R1 which means one unit per 1000 sq. ft. of land. The city calls this "medium density". The MINIMUM density allowed in that zone is one unit per 2000 sq ft of lot so the developer is building at the MINIMUM density allowed under the zone. Is the developer the "clown" or are the city planners?

The project on NE 15th wont get financed in this market so no worries for a while at least.

The developers of the proposal on 10th had the courage to show up in front of the "worked up" neighbors at Irvington Elementary neighborhood meeting last month to explain their project. IMO, they get big points for that. 95% of the outrage at the outrage was directed at the NE 15th proposal.

ooops, should have typed "outrage at the meeting"

Isn't densification the current goal of Portland Metro land use planning? So, we shouldn't be surprised when high rise concrete bunker like condos and apartment units go in our neighborhoods. Measure 37 could have helped relieve some of the pressure to infill, but no we've got to protect the 96% of Oregon that's vacant.

How soon do we want the site developed, and the jobs/tax base that comes with it? Sorry - it's just econ 101.

Are you kidding? Econ 101 has nothing to do with this. This project has been and will be massively, massively subsidized by the city. It can and should be whatever the neighbors want it to be.

If it's a Home Depot or nothing, I'd say plant grass, take down the fence, and call it a park.

Actually, with Central City Concern about to move a lot of its operation out from across the street, I suspect something huge and horrible is about to happen to that whole area.

I agree that the Star is one of the best sources for real news in the city. On the other side of the river, the NW Examiner is a damn good paper that is a bit more opinionated, but covers its neighborhood issues very well and pulls no punches.

The condo on Halsey, from the outside, seems to have some appeal and doesn't seem terribly overpriced. Jeez, a retooled 750-sq. ft. one bedroom in a tenement across the street from my business on Belmont was selling for $275,000 a year ago. Even worse, there was a 330-sq. ft. studio selling for $130,000. Do you know how small 330-sq. ft. is? It's about the size of two parking spaces.

All of these new "infill" construction projects increase density and increase the property tax rolls, unless they are located within a TIF/URA district.

This has significantly increased the property tax base over the past decade, but the schools, county, and city are all talking about taxes not keeping up with inflation.

What gives?

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