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Thursday, July 24, 2008

SoWhat disaster news reaches Salem

Even with the happiest spin Dike Dame can put on it, it's pretty bleak.

Comments (16)

Jack, you do an outstanding job keeping readers informed on the issue of Portland debt and the unfunded liabilities.

However, I think the average citizen doesn't understand the long term effects this has on us, both as individuals, and citizens of this state.

It's clear that Portland owes a hugh amount of money, and that they have undoubtably over-extended the city when it comes to the SoWhat District.

For those of us that aren't up on municipal finance, could you please briefly discuss where this is all headed. That is, what's some "worst case" scenarios you can see.

Unfunded Police & Fire pensioners are an
obvious threat to the general fund of the City, but how bad can it get? Is a "San Diego style" fiscal meltdown possible or likely? If so, what would the implications as you see it? Thanks.

In December of 2006, The Oregonian ran a piece called "The new face of affluence". One of the people featured in that article was Jeremy Stoddart...


Unit: 2,400 square feet, two bedrooms plus a den, penthouse; $1,061,574
Profession: He owns a mortgage company. She's a model and a portrait photographer.
Moved from: A McCormick Pier condo in Old Town/Chinatown.

Story: Jeremy Stoddart grew up in Eugene spending Sundays after church touring homes for sale with his investment-savvy parents. At 18, he devoured business classes at UO but tired of other coursework. At 24, he became a mortgage broker. A year later, he started his own company, Source One Financial. Now 29, he and his wife, Carrie, 25, have moved into a Meriwether penthouse.

"I always felt I would have loved to be in the first buildings in the Pearl," Jeremy Stoddart says. "Here was our chance" in South Waterfront.

Stoddart says the decision was a no-brainer investment -- a "holy moly" view of downtown, the river and the mountains; cutting-edge green architecture; close in; and all on one floor.

So he was real genius as it turns out. A poster child for the wealth effect of the bubble years. Perhaps the Oregonian would be interested in doing a followup "where are they now?" article on Portland's affluent.

in a move stunning in its cowardice and dishonesty, this:

For the next 20 years, the district will burn through every dollar City Hall can spare, any tax and fee it can create and any grant it can pry loose from state and federal coffers just to pay for its basic needs.

will no doubt be blamed all on this:

"oh, it was the economic downturn, we couldn't foresee it."

ah. yes. a simple act of unforeseen consequences. no poor judgement here, no hubris, no repeated wheel-deals behind closed doors, no blaming a mayor who isn't a mayor anymore, no corporate greed over citizen health...no consequences for absolving OHSU and anybody else involved of responsibility...nope. none of that. move along.

i can't wait for Act II of this Greek tragedy. problem is, i can't afford any more tickets--yet my "credit card" keeps getting billed anyway.

I don't understand this hype about preventing sprawl. I can't see any difference between most of Portland proper and the surrounding suburbs. They all pretty much operate the same way despite all the subsidized highrises and mass transit Portland proper has added to date. Things like the Pearl re-make probably added more congestion to the city than it prevents because it may have attracted an increase in Portland population that wouldn't have occurred otherwise.

Lessee - $200M for riverfront improvements, $250M for a bridge, another $195M for OHSU, $200M (guess) to build I-5 access, god knows how much for streetcars. So we are pushing $1B in public money and this has attracted $1B in private investment. WHat the heck kind of return is that?

This is going to happen with the I-5 bridge once Mr Adams insists on it being a certain artisitic way. Meanwhile the potholes grow, the inffrastructure collapses and we only need another 30 years to pay for the big pipe. I guess this is what happens when you elect a college drop-out with dreams for other people's money.

And don't forget that the $1 billion in private development was to "entice Oregon Health & Science University to expand in the city, not the suburbs", per Williams and Dame.

Also note that they didn't say which city.

JK: What a target rich article!
AP: But supporters say South Waterfront will prevent sprawl
JK: If stopping sprawl costs BILLIONS, what is the point? Who pays the cost? Why is sprawl bad anyway? Afer all, sprawl saves money, reduces congestion and reduces pollution.

AP: and eventually attract jobs that will help power the region’s economy.
JK: More minimum wage jobs!

AP: South Waterfront’s lead developer, Williams & Dame Development, says taxpayers’ investments have already attracted about $1 billion in private development
JK: It would have been cheaper to let the original land owneres develop the way they wanted - WITHOUT TAX SUBSIDY - they would be contributing millions per year by now, instead of draining money from schools, police and other basic services.

As to Williams & Dame Development, they are just making excuses for raping the taxpayer.

AP: and helped entice Oregon Health & Science University to expand in the city, not the suburbs.
JK: Why do we want them - they don’t pay taxes.


A little off topic, but I'm glad to hear Sam/Metro/our Marxist government wants to replace the 6-lane I-5 bridge with...a 6-lane I-5 bridge. But with light rail!!

Oh goodie! What vision!

BTW, there's a new CO2 scrubber being developed that could ostensibly reverse CO2 levels in the atmosphere.


Damn that technology! Now there's a distinct possibility greenies will have to think up a whole new way to ban the automobile.

SoWhat is Portland's Big Dig.

Dike Dame and Homer Williams can be optimistic about SoWhat and they hope it continues because they are being "rewarded" in so many ways even though they are nearing foreclosure on 54 condo units in the John Ross tower.

For example, wouldn't we all be happy to buy Block 49 for $1.2M two years back, then sell it to PDC for affordable housing for $5 MILLION. Then get paid for the development/building rights, etc. that are higher than what affordable housing agencies are paying for similar projects.

And when some of the eight North Macadam Agreement requirements for Dames/Williams aren't met or pass due dates, there is always PDC's to help them renegotiate, or forget the requirements or dates. Ahh, partnerships-the foundation of Portland.

Move along folks, nothing to see here. Just business as usual.

Can somebody remind me of the total OHSU is spending to develop that research facility in Florida? There's another amount to add to the total robbery of citizens.

SoWhat has been a fraud, scam, money laundering and pilfering of tax dollars for decades to come.

The cover provided by the biotech, jobs and anti-sprawl rhetoric is all part of the gross mismanagement and misrepresentations that have ushered along this mushrooming boondoggle.

The incredible lack of integrity demonstrated by the Katz and Adams regime will go down in history as an era of municipal calamity. The fiscal irresponsibility cannot be blurred much longer by the shiny trains and PR reflections.

What I cannot figure out about this story and the subsequent coverage is why no one has pointed out how poorly the Portland city planners have "planned."

The planner in the article admits that he underestimated the infrastructures costs of SoWa by an "order of magnitude."

An **order of magnitude**?? You mean you underestimated costs by and ORDER OF TEN??

This is the same "planning" that underestimated costs of the tram by an order of four?

If these are the kind of quality we get out of our city planners, then we need to can these folks and get a new set of planners!!

Why do I suspect that most of these folks reside in the Transportation Division and that there will be no house cleaning?

"... most of these folks reside in the Transportation Division and that there will be no house cleaning?

Jon, right on target.
Could we see resumes on all of the "expert" planners in City Hall? When we find out if they graduated with any kind of Civil Engineering, Urban Planning, or other relevant degree, we should sue the university who sent these men and women out into the work place for misrepresentation.

Doesn't anybody out there in this work field know how to estimate a job? Or once again, back to John's comment "...there will be no house cleaning?"

If someone in my firm provided a cost estimate for a project and final costs came in 10 times higher, for a million dollars project, they'd get canned.

In Portland city government, instead we get whining about steel and concrete costs, and then just business as usual. And then a new project comes down the pipe.

PDX Renter: Looks like someone has already done a follow-up on Stoddart:

"Jeremy Stoddart's story exposes the realities of the condo crash.

Stoddart, who owned mortgage company Source One Financial, paid $1 million for a 2,300-square-foot Meriwether condo in May 2006. Stoddart, who did not return calls for comment, put his condo on the market last August as the mortgage market went haywire nationwide. He asked for $1.2 million, then lowered it to $925,000, 13 percent less than he paid two years ago.

In January, Stoddart defaulted on his condo."


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