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Friday, July 18, 2008

Sick joke

Though Rapaport stuck to his vision, he didn’t want to sacrifice the local character of the neighborhood.... "I feel good about what we’ve given the neighborhood."
Give me a break. Here's the neighborhood, Mr. Rapaport, and here's you. From the east, a couple of two-story houses whose western exposure is completely blotted out by your monstrosity. And your lack of setback fits in real well with their front yards:

From the south, more two-story houses with setbacks, defiled by you and your shiny box from Hades:

Looking east along Division Street, one finds a nice avenue of traditional one- and two-story houses, commercial buildings and apartments, plus one sore thumb over there on the right:

Ram your shlock down Portland's throats if you must, but please don't tell us what a "neighborhood character" man you are. Not everyone is as gullible as the people who are paying you $500K for less than 1,500 square feet in that box, or the reporters who parrot back your sales spiels.

Comments (62)

Wow. I'd be pissed off if someone built that monstrosity next to my house.

We use to live near there and the the clay rabbit pottery place worked well in that neighborhood. Now gone and condoitis is probably going to be endemic to Division street.
A little farther north on 29th and Grant street is another abortion of high rise single family residence...quite out of character to the surrounding homes.
Thanks for being on top of the reasons why we bailed out of shyster town, the city of nightmares.

I recently returned to Portland after living in another state for 7 years, and it is truly shocking to see how the city continues to piss away everything that makes it unique and livable in the name of density and developer profits.

Honestly, Jack. That stretch of Division is already mostly commercial. Because of that development the two houses left on that block are going to become much more valuable as commercial property than what they currently are. Their owners will benefit greatly. I remember very well when there was not much on NE Fremont between 42nd and 57th. A large lumberyard was developed into a brewpub, a charming house with a huge lot surrounded by manicured boxwood hedges spurned development of some architecturally sensitive condominiums. The wall bed store was an old house, now greatly transformed. Several zero setback boxes were built, opening restaurants, and other retail businesses. The remaining residences are now are also restaurants and retail shops. I believe the consensus of the Beaumont neighborhood is that all of this development created a very livable commercial area that created vitality in the neighborhood, greatly influenced the desirability of moving there and increased property values.

Jack, do you take exception to the density, the architecture, or both?

Re: the density, where are people supposed to live as our population increases? This is an alternative to Altlanta-style endless sprawl. In concentrating people in the inner city, it is an economically efficient development pattern. It may not be perfect but it's hardly the developer's fault the population is growing. If not appropriate here, then where???

Re: the architecture, it's a bit unfair to criticize since the building is not finished yet. But I agree it will probably be ugly.

The developers should be required to provide one off-street parking space for each bedroom. If it's a one-bedroom condo, then one space. Two bedrooms then two spaces. The people that can afford to buy these condos will own cars (even if they prefer to leave them parked so they can strut around in brighly colored spandex with their bikes). Without adequate parking, they will have to park on the street, further crowding the neighborhood for the current residents.

Unit, the problem may be that it just doesn't fit in with the stuff around it.

I agree that it's probably unavoidable however, especially on major arterial/commercial streets.

I've found that the acceptance of our fair city's density plans often comes down to whether the observer is a renter or an owner. If your a renter, these projects fight sprawl, and you'll probably move eventually anyway, so whatever. If your an owner, its "there goes the neighborhood" and the value of your biggest asset/investment is threatened.

"I feel good about what we’ve given the neighborhood."

What, there are Poodle Poop Stains on the sidewalks already?

Tell me about it! Drive down any major street in inner SE and feel the shock and awe of one of these monstrosities as you pass. They are totally out of character and scale with the surrounding neighborhoods.

"If your an owner, its "there goes the neighborhood" and the value of your biggest asset/investment is threatened."

I'd imagine that the property value goes through the roof when land is "upzoned" for more density.

I think there's a legitimate concern about preventing gentrification, and attempting to make Portland equitable and livable for everyone, regardless of social status and skin color, but good luck preventing change. Portland's neighborhoods have been in a perpetual state of change for the entirety of its history.

I second Unit. If you don't want to increase the density of our metro area, what is your solution?

The developers should be required to provide one off-street parking space for each bedroom.

Required? The city planners require fewer spaces. And if the developer wants permits, then he has to do it.
One example is the new building across from PGE Park...about half as many spaces as there are units.

If you don't want to increase the density of our metro area, what is your solution?

Whats wrong with building out? Call it "sprawl" if you want, but its going to be needed eventually.
We cant build "up" everywhere. We will end up looking like NYC.

Aaron, it isn't so simple as "property values through the roof." Most people buy their homes to live in and enjoy, and therefore the redevelopment value is nice to know, but ultimately doesn't mean much. Besides the homes behind this structure (i.e. off of Division) don't have commercial zoning - they retain their residential zoning.

Most of the homes around this structure retain enough value not to be knocked down, therefore the value of the zoning is beside the point. It remains a single family home, but now one with a giant box next to it and a horrible parking problem on the block. That lowers the resale value.

"If you don't want to increase the density of our metro area, what is your solution?"
I don't know. Just don't do it next to my house.

There is also something to be said for historic preservation. When developers start plopping their infill into historic neighborhoods, they lose their charm. People think the South is backward, but when I lived there, we had tons of rules and regulations about what we could do to our historic home and (god forbid) if someone demolished one what could go in its place. Portland needs to get a grip on this because neighborhood character is really important.

Re density - that "build up or build out" mantra is such a fallacy. Neither is the only alternative to the other. The developed outlying areas have room to add a couple stories - many many square miles of it. These neighborhoods are being packed for a number of reasons but saving natural and farm land has nothing to do with it.

"If you don't want to increase the density of our metro area, what is your solution?"

Give the rural property owners their rights back and let them build. For a state that is dependent on property taxes to fund state budgets, it's a win-win for everyone.

I live a block from the building (it's finished now) and feel it's easily the best looking structure on Division. I love it and thinks it's a fantastic addition to the neighborhood. Also, when comparing this one to the countless ugly 70s and 80s structures on Division it looks even better.

I agree that a lot of the newer condos are ugly, but not this one...I really enjoy it.

The idea that I'd be happy that someone builds a shoebox-stack of condos next to my house because it raises the value is asinine.

People in this exact neighborhood fought tooth and nail to stop the Mount Hood Freeway because of the change it would make to the neighborhood. It would have been *two blocks* from this development. There's several parks on SE Clinton that were ODOT-condemned land for the freeway ROW, which they gave back after cancellation. I guess because density and "livability" are the buzzwords of 21st century Portland, this type of change to the neighborhood is seen as a positive thing, even though as a resident of inner SE Portland, I can say it is NOT.

I bought my house because I like the house, I like the location, and I like the character of the neighborhood. If the value goes up because someone is destroying the character of my neighborhood, I'm supposed to just say "Bah whatever - my house just gained 10% of the value. Better sell now!"

Moving sucks. Moving also means that I'll likely be farther away from where I work, adding to congestion.

The other day, I saw on another blog that someone was advocating for a MAX line out Powell / Foster because there is "plenty of space for infill" and I just about wanted to scream.

Leave my neighborhood the hell alone.

I love the reference to "The Geode" as the inspiration for the design. The thing looks like a pile of coprolite to me.

Its a fine looking building - much nicer than the sort of apartment complexes surrounded by a parking lot you find out on the outskirts of town. There is no reason that buildings of varying scale cannot exist harmoniously in the same neighborhood. Give it a couple of years and it will just fade into the background.

"I agree that a lot of the newer condos are ugly, but not this one...I really enjoy it."

Enlighten me - What exactly makes this thing stand out. Its out of scale with the rest of the neighborhood and otherwise looks like a box with windows, so what?

At least when there was a house there with some setback from the street there was grass and not a buidling looming above you when you go by at street level.

It just gets tiring that developers sell this units/sqft to CoP and then basically get whatever they want. If you can remember 20+ years ago, we were going to step down building heights the closer to the river you got. We got tons of artsy people telling us this was the thing to do to preserve views and connectiveness to the Willamette.

Guess what - Homer basically got Vera to buy into the SoHo on the river and then SoWhat happened.

I also think the new condo looks good. Those who claim or imply that Division has some sort of fine old historic character that is being ruined by modern structures like
Rapaport's haven't looked closely at the street. I wonder how the architecture critics commenting here rate the Plaid Pantry across the street, for example? Division is much more about 1970s-era trash than early-20th-century charm. I hope the street gets more new buildings of the quality of Rapaport's.

That said, I'm not pretending that Rapaport isn't a jerk for displacing the Clay Rabbit House in order to make room for his condo building. That house was one of the relatively few structures on Division that had special charm or character; that Rapaport didn't find some other lot to build on doesn't say much for the guy's appreciation of architecture or the neighborhood.

All he cares about are his ego and his money.

Can you imagine what kind of "character" a 10 story project will exhibit on Interstate?

If I lived around 26th and Division, I'd be organizing a loud boycott of all businesses in that building.

Wow Jack if this building wasn't on a major street I could understand the hysteria. I liked the house that was there before but cities change. The city didn't subsidize Rappaport, he moved the house to another location, and plenty of people seem to want to live there.

Division has an interesting history, back in the 30's banks were pretty hesitant to lend money if the property was on Division the area was seen as a money pit. The last five or so years are probably the best that street has seen in at least 50.

Look at the pictures. It's grossly, grossly, out of place. It screwed the neighbors, big time. The fact that other people want to live there at the expense of the folks who got there first is not a justification for this out-of-scale building.

And the fact that the street's doing well is certainly not this guy's doing. Quite the opposite.

If we want to preserve the quality of our state we need density on major avenues.That being said , this is a out of scale , insensitive BOX design. Streets change over time, and
someone has to go dense first. Remember all of Weston's ugly six-pack apartments. MAN , did we hate them , and now you drive right by. Cities are vital because they change , sometimes with less grace than we would like , like this Box.

Walk down there. It actually looks pretty good sure its larger than the surrounding buildings but the exterior really is pretty broken up so it doesn't seem like some sort of monolith dropped on the site. It should blend in nicely. I really don't get the outrage. Would you like it more if it had a 3 in 12 pitch roof, hardi shingles in the gable and fake stone at the base? That's pretty much the portland standard for shlock.

In 50 years you might end up with, shudder, something like the Alphabet District in Northwest Portland. Enough density to support walkable shops and restaurants. Tragic - we must stop this!

walkable shops and restaurants.

Most owned by national chains and plucked from the nearest regional shopping mall? Yes, actually, doing that to Division would be quite tragic.

Division won't have the chain restaurants as long as the neighborhood doesn't support them. Inner SE is going to continue to develop as long as incomes increase in Portland and people move here. It is an unavoidable trend. I am glad people are building up, and though I don't like all the architecture, I am glad it is happening. I grew up in Sacramento, and I wish Sacramento would have the ability to develop areas like the Pearl, but instead the capital area is a wasteland and people move to the suburbs. If prices get too high, it is sad, but people will just have to move. It is already happening and other neighborhoods will develop. We should be working to build alternative transportation to the suburbs and make it as affordable as possible for areas east of 82nd to commute into Portland and other similar areas. Instead we want to invest in street cars in inner SE. Put that money into more buses, dedicated bike streets and more buses to eastern SE.

I really have to laugh at people complaining about their house prices going up because people want to live in this neighborhood. It is a problem many people in this country would love to have. The fact is, people moved here because they loved the area and just because they moved here first, does not give them some priority over new arrivals. They moved in, probably paid more for the house previously there, drove house prices up, changed the neighborhood, and forced others to move. Change happens. Let us find ways to make that change benefit all of Portland instead of spending our time trying to defend some idea of Portland that never really existed.

The chain stores in NW are incidental and a result of the neighborhood being desirable enough for people to come in from the 'burbs. Get off 23rd and it's mostly independent places catering to residents. I live in this neighborhood and enjoy going for a walk in the bustle. Evidently I'm not the only one, seeing how the rents and prices are so much higher in dense areas, regardless of the architectural aesthetic.

Something to ponder: If you were to survey every interesting place and notable landmark in the world, how many were welcome by neighbors at the time of construction? How many were planned with completely noble intentions and came in under budget?

I prefer the 'sore thumb' to this ugly, out-of-place POS.

"If prices get too high, it is sad, but people will just have to move."

Excellent! Instead of having an area populated by families with mixed incomes and lifestyles we'll have one filled with rich yuppies, with the minions providing their basic services relagated to the fringes of the city--better yet, build a wall with checkpoints along 82nd to keep 'em out altogether, unless they're working.

I completely disagree that this is out of scale with the neighborhood. Having lived up and down Division for 10 years, the street would benefit from being more commercial and higher density. Actually, I quite pissed that new development occurred after I left...now there are coffee shops and pubs and breakfast joints. I agree with John Benton's comments.

Change is going to happen, and it always sucks when it happens next to the home you own, but that is the risk you take when you buy a home on a commercial street. The odds are something will change and this type of development is completely appropriate (at least in scale, not necessarily in price). I live next to a vacant lot right now and yes, I'm scared what will go in, but I purchased my home knowing the zoning and knowing the risk.

Sounds like the type of stuff that goes on in L.O. only on a larger scale.

Yeah Vinny, you blend.

The folks who author these policies believe that that this kind of building is the "highest and best use" of the property, and if you live next door, you are not a victim of gentrification, you are living on an "underdeveloped property". They truly believe that policies to force you off in favor of costlier, taller development are best for the region.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that their reward system -- the career path for planners -- is based on the number of trophy projects like this they can claim to have had their hands in.

Meantime, they all live in nice old Portland homes on R1 lots with beautifully planted gardens and lots of privacy.

You want to change the outcome, you have to change the reward system. As our elected officials are all grazing at the same trough, that change isn't too likely any time soon.

Remember all of Weston's ugly six-pack
apartments. MAN, did we hate them, and now you drive right by.

Maybe you drive right by. I still hate them and hope their creator gets what he deserves for his many counts of sacrilege.

I live a couple of blocks from here and the green space that was this corner is forever lost to our neighborhood. The historic character of the carriage house is gone. The "commercial" zoning that was granted was intended to "save" the Clay Rabbit, not demolish it for condos.

NO parking was required by the zoning, that becomes a social cost borne by all the neighbors. And this developer elected to not even provide bicycle parking in our bike-friendly neighborhood.

However fancifully attractive this building may be to some --is rusting steel all that attractive?-- this building is an abomination, and the bitter tears it brought our neighborhood will pass with time...but the loss is huge.

The developer could have bought the ugly Plaid Pantry parcel across the street...but the Clay Rabbit/green space was cheaper for him. That's what drove this decision, not aesthetics.

“When design is compromised, it destroys the vision,” said Rapaport. “We held to our vision and our result was a building that the community will love after time. We would have done this project whether there was opposition or not.”

In other words, when Randy Rappaport came to our neighborhood association meeting he said THIS is what I'm building and I don't give a rat's ass what you think.

The even funnier quote is about the "victorian" (uh, farm house) that was "saved" and the carriage house that was "deconstructed" to, oh, better use?

Funnier still is that the original "vision" required a variance that the neghborhood opposed, so he pulled the variance request but still built his original vision? How do you do that?

Greater density including more pricey condos results in higher property values and increased property tax revenue. The politicians and bureaucrats love it!
Speaking of condos, can anyone confirm for us that one of the SoWhat condo buildings is out of plumb?

"Greater density including more pricey condos results in higher property values and increased property tax revenue."

Uh, unless the residents and developer of the building in question got property taxes forgiven for 10 years.

Get used to it. It fits right in with the "...pack 'em in downtown / don't let 'em drive cars / don't let folks build on their property..." crowd that seems to run everything. You reap what you sow, folks.

Division has a chain store: Starbucks. I'm all for creating dense housing but not the way counselor Rappaport does it. His units are too expensive, bland looking, and most often have owners who have cars. Density and more cars = more air pollution. The new bakery in his new Division unit is clearly does not cater to neighborhood folks.

The Starbucks at 20th & Division is closing.

The closing of Starbucks shows that despite the change in Division's culture, people still support local businesses. If condos are not built, it will not make the neighborhood more affordable or stop working families from moving farther east. It will just cut the number of available rentals and homes, and drive up prices even more. it is simple supply and demand, and demand to live in SE is growing and the supply of single family homes will not be able to keep up. The sad fact is, house prices will go up because demand will go up and new neighborhoods will emerge as people are forced out of the SE neighborhood.

I have to say this is the most productive conversation here in ages. It started with the usual tedious wank: "top of the reasons why we bailed out of shyster town, the city of nightmares" written by those who couldn't hack it and headed back to mommies basement in Gresham. Then it was good to see people defending a building, that may be of dubious merit, but is fundamentally no different from hundreds of apartment complexes that line the major roads of inner Portland. This density is essential to the walkability of our town, and I intend to end up in one when the daughter heads to college and the dog dies.

I do have to say that I will never learn to ignore Weston's apartments. They are vile motel architecture plopped down in the middle of residential blocks. When the old man dies I'm hoping someone will find a way of making money knocking them down and building townhouses.

It must be nice to marry into money, Sherwood. Guess the folks who serve your strata of the socioeconomic spectrum get to live out in Gresham when they lose their affordable rentals due to the forced density you so love, eh ?

Yeah, it must be nice. I wouldn't know. I work 12 hours a night...making decent money...and will never be able to afford to own a house in this city due to these mandates. Feel like lending me a couple hundred grand out of that money you didn't work for ?

Christ on a Crutch...I can't stop laughing, considering what you admitted about your personal fortune.

written by those who couldn't hack it and headed back to mommies basement in Gresham

That is truly one for the ages. Man, you made my whole afternoon.

Sherwood, let's keep this simple. You stated "this density is essential to the walkability of our town." How does a four story flat faced, up to the property line-sidewalk edge, faceless box contribute to "walkability".

So I'm walking past the houses directly before Rapaport's Genius, enjoying the setbacks from the street, trees, landscaping, sunlight, actual space, low heights and I now come to "WALKABILITY" along Rapaport's Genius. Now I have eight feet of sidewalk, no landscaping, no sunlight, not even a sense of space, no contextual relationship to the neighborhood or even the adjacent properties. Where is the "walkability"? Where? Explain, because just you stating so makes no sense.

How does density make for walkability?

"How does density make for walkability?"

Well, I guess you will walk past it faster because it's so damned ugly.


That was just rude. Your worth so much more than that. I’m still retired by the way, something that was partly enabled by making enough money beforehand to put 50% down on a house. The marrying well part I can’t deny, although if you did a few sit-ups, maybe got a new haircut, and started working more in LO, you too may find a successful girl who will help you sleep at night.like the rest of us.

I assume the question about walkability was just being facetious. Walkability doesn’t mean that you have the right to walk, otherwise Tigard would be a renowned urban paradise. It means having something to walk to and having enough people nearby for those businesses to thrive. I know, it’s logic on an up is up and down is down level, but some people here don’t seem to get it.

"...can anyone confirm for us that one of the SoWhat condo buildings is out of plumb?"

Yes, I can, I worked on it about 3 weeks ago and it is presently 7" out of plumb. I'm not sure what they are planning to do about it, but it has the construction guys laughing.

Sherwood, I know what you meant by "walkability" but find in other neighborhoods that when these mixed use buildings go up, businesses that move into them seem to be simply more of the same. The Safeway/Condo building going up in the Pearl will represent the only actual mainstream shopping center in that area. I'm not counting Whole Foods which is all the way up on W. Burnside or Trader Joes and Food Front on the other side of 405. Independent and locally-owned barber shops, hardware stores, pharmacies, garden centers, etc. are less likely to be able to afford the pricey per foot costs and what will probably move in is either another coffee shop, Thai Restaurant or Pottery Barn that neighbors will walk or drive by on their way to further-flung stores that carry necessities. In that sense, many of these recent multi-use projects fail any neighborhood "walkability" test.

he didn’t want to sacrifice the local character of the neighborhood

he moved a large, old, beautiful house in order to build the building. i think that's what they call "cognitive dissonance".

look--anybody who thinks this building (and others like it) are built for community edification and support must also write checks to late night TV evangelists. they're built for the ego and pocketbook of the developer. period.

this one is no different. when will folks stop looking at buildings as ways to monumentalize their egos? when the current system of "development" has run its course (at our expense.)

but hey--in other news, the Starbucks on 20th & Division is closing. guess this building's inhabitants will have to go to the Red & Black and fraternize with the collective.

oh wait--the Red & Black was sacrificed to preserve the "character of the neighborhood". it's gone too, off to (temporarily) cheaper pastures.

I think the most annoying thing is not the building itself, but Rapaport's attitude. I mean, "I feel good about what we've given the neighborhood." Don't you see, he feels good...that's all that matters. And plus, he's giving us a gift!


It's just another cookie cutter Holst project copied from 70's Germany.

Regarding the "we need to build up not out" myth: We are doing both. The UGB by law must contain 20 (the planners are working on making that 50) years worth of buildable land. As we "densify" the core we continue with old style suburban sprawl.
The problem is we continue to encourage growth by subsidizing it. In the SoWa district taxpayers will be on the hook for something like $500 million in infrastructure upgrades to service all those "green condos". In Happy Valley and Bull Mountain we let developers sprawl out and we end up paying for new roads, schools, parks, etc...We give tax breaks to big companies so that they can employ all these newcomers, once again deferring the social costs of growth. We build developer oriented transit projects (lightrail, streetcar, 12 lane bridges to Vancouver) at great taxpayer expense when there are much cheaper alternatives.
The costs of all this growth in terms of livability and money are past on to future generations and decision makers. It's time to say no to growth for growth's sake.
Now that the whole real estate/lender /developer/planner/builder thing is temporarily off ballance (despite efforts to bail them out), we need to work on truly sustainable alternatives to growth.

"The Starbucks at 20th & Division is closing"

I'm sure this has nothing to do at all with being 4 blocks from a coffee shop on Clinton and 26th that makes Starbucks look like the manufactured tripe that it really is...

How will destroying yet another historical home affect the ongoing effort to have the Irvington Historic District recognized as a National Historic District? Recognition of a National Historic District is dependent upon the number of original existing structures. Tearing down yet another historic home could thwart all the effort and heart which has gone into seeking the Historic National District status of the Historic Irvington District.

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