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Friday, August 15, 2008

Condos, good! Anything standing in their way, bad!

When there's a snow job in progress in Portland, you can count on the O to help it along. Now the SmartPark garage at 10th and Yamhill has officially become "much maligned." Really -- by whom, other than the downtown real estate maneuverers who want to make big bucks by taking it over and knocking it down, and the friends of said developers at City Hall and the city's daily newspaper? There's urine in the stairwells. O.k., and the remedy for that is to knock the whole place down? Oh, and now all of a sudden there's a problem with the farookin' elevator shafts?

Retailers and theater owners prize SmartPark's spaces but loathe its poorly designed elevator shafts and stairwells smelling of urine.
Can someone please tell me what's wrong with the shafts, and how they're any worse than the shaft that the city's taxpayers are about to receive?

The other piece of baloney being served up with the latest official pronouncements on this dubious project is the assertion that the $30 million subsidy that the condo developer is going to get from the city is merely the same amount that the city would have to pay to rehab the existing garage. What nonsense, and how lame of the O to regurgitate it back exactly as dictated by the city flacks. The city is currently rehabbing four other highly similar SmartPark garages downtown at an estimated total cost of $4.9 million. For a few million more, you could make the 10th and Yamhill garage shine, and hire security to keep the wee-wee hobos away around the clock. But no.

I know that when the O gets rid of half its reporters, a lot of them will have to take p.r. jobs. But some days, it seems like they have them already. At least there are a few critical thinkers left in the city's journalistic core -- but not many.

Comments (24)

I'm so happy to know there will be less parking downtown. I am also sure that will help the merchants entice more shoppers into their stores.

Just another demonstration of the chaos they call planning around here.

The idea that the city is accomplishing something for the public with this sort of investing is nothing short of offical malfeacance

When I was a kid, the Oregonian liked that much-maligned parking garage.

"City government got into the parking business in 1977 to support economic growth, transit usage, traffic flow and environmental quality goals. Convenient, low-cost parking for central-city visitors and clients is a necessary ingredient in the strategy to meet those goals." (11/22/88)

"Shoppers and other visitors downtown who are frustrated by the lack of on-street parking and are worried about a possible dramatic increase in parking fines do have an alternative. Officials of the Association for Portland Progress point out that seven city-owned parking garages are located in the downtown area with a rate structure designed to attract short-term parking. Each has its own security patrol." (3/29/90)

Oh, and that shaft that smells of wee?

The Oregonian actually gave it a review.

"Morrison Park West garage (Ninth and Yamhill corner): The sturdy elevator in the southeast corner of the parking garage offers a perfectly adequate portal to Portland's street life below. Glamorous it's not, but it compensates with a nice view of the new ``Whaling Wall'' through the slightly vandalized plexiglass wall. Hard rubber floor, plastic floor indicator lights. Slow." (5/16/93)

Erecting buildings that are going to be deemed useless and demolished thirty years later is a tremendous waste of resources, period.

Putting Andrews from Melvin Mark on the PDC is disgraceful. Way to promote the churn, Potter.

Those elevators will drive you straight up the wall.

Is it just me, or does $30M rent a whole lot of power washers from Home Depot?

I'll bet it would pay for the installation of some drainage piping and grinding of the stair landings to drain off urine too.

This whole deal stinks of more than urine, that's for sure.

It's coming...those solar powered parking meters for the (former)SE Industrial District. There are those who still wish and hope to try and Pearlize that area. If they can just get the trolley going.

Not to mention the 30% loss of parking revenue the new structure will get. Or are they planning to give it all to the developer anyway. This project has been on the short list for a long time. A couple of years ago I was on a COP advisory group regarding merchant parking validations. The advisory panel by no coincidence was composed of a few representatives from several merchants and a bunch of consultant planners and architects. At that time the city was already laying out these pseudo reasons for tearing the 10th Avenue garage down. I voiced my objections and of course they were disregarded. If this city spent half of the 30 million on real drug and alcohol enforcement-rehabilitation, focused on the mentally ill and put some teeth and enforcement into vagrancy laws they wouldn’t have to blame businesses like Petersons for the social problems this city and the progressives have let get out of hand.

"Putting Andrews from Melvin Mark on the PDC is disgraceful. Way to promote the churn, Potter."

If you go to Sam's website, he is claiming responsibility for Andrews. This is a gold-plated bene for Andrews. He pushes Carroll's (ex-PDC) project, Carroll builds it, Andrew's company sells it, taxpayers get fewer parking spaces and even more empty condos and storefronts. Meanwhile, everything outside of downtown rots/collapses without new taxes being thrust upon us.

Sammy-boy is the easiest guy in the world to manipulate.

The interest on $30 million would pay to have three uniformed Portland police officers at 10th and Morrison, three shifts, around the clock. That would clear up most of the problems without tearing the building down.

This post forced me into a paradigm shift. Until recently, I believed that newspapers like The Oregonian deserve our support and sympathy, despite their flaws, because they occasionally do some useful in-depth reporting on the important issues of the day. Now I'm beginning to believe that they deserve to die, because mostly they are just regurgitating the crap fed to them by their big advertisers and the business/political elite. As you pointed out, their reporters are so busy trying to find new jobs that the reporters have already become de facto PR flacks. This is a sad time in the evolution of journalism.

How about one cop and three laborers with power-washers, brooms, mops and radios that connect to the roving cop. Now you have "clean and safe". Add "green" in there somewhere and Sam should be able to get behind the idea.

It is a sad time in the evolution of journalism; one of the saddest things, in my view, is that many have been given opportunites to evolve, but most have been too arrogant to take advantage of them.

That's many journalists.

Add "green" in there somewhere and Sam should be able to get behind the idea.

If the garage's wash water is filtered through bioswales and then reused in the fountain at the park next door . . .

That garage has hydraulic elevators (the cars are pushed up and down by big cylinders, rather than pulled up by cables wound by electric motors)-- and they are pretty unreliable. PDC had a nice plan to fix the whole garage, replacing the elevators, remaking the corner stairwells (putting one-way doors at the bottom of the stairwells would be an obvious effective, er--step), and upgrading the retail space, for something like $10 million. They were going to hang beautiful decorative screening all around the upper floors, and build the retail out to the pillars on the Morrison Street side, eliminating the sheltered space that is the actual root of the lifestyle issues blamed on Peterson's.

What an awful missed opportunity that would have been!

I emailed Mayor Potter about the current developments at that location, and I got a response from one of his lackeys saying that this was started way back in the Katz administration, and linking anything to the current administration wasnt fair.

I'm so happy to know there will be less parking downtown.

No kidding...monthly parking is already nearing $200/mo in Smartpark garages.
I have seen a couple private garages that are still around $150 though.

The other day my wife made the mistake of pulling into a downtown garage that she thought she was a SmartPark, but wasn't. Less than two hours later, she paid $13.50 to get her car out of there. So she won't be going to that particular shop again. Way to go, City Hall and Portland Business Alliance! Enjoy your mentally deranged and homeless, while all the normal people are at the malls, with plenty of free parking and competent private rent-a-cops.

I can't wait until Brooks Brothers is gone -- and I bet I won't be waiting long. Vera Katz Fake New York isn't working, and probably never will.

New PDC staff has arrived to work the South Waterfront. They are recent transplants from NYC.
Thye don't know squat about the PDC, SoWa, UR, TIF or any of the fiscal boondoggles throughout the city.

Perfect patsies to follow orders.

Isn't it amazing that PDC now says that any fix-up of garage is now about $30M when they said a year ago it was about $10M, and then to say that $30M is about what they will subsidize the condo tower with 600 spaces with taxpayer money. That is $50,000 per parking spaces. Average downtown underground parking space has around $30,000. Is this like another giveaway like the 100 spaces that cost taxpayers $60,000 down at The Strand at RiverPlace.

The blight issue needs to be tested in court. First, begin with an LCDC challenge, then Appeals Court, then the Oregon Supreme Court. It is a doable endeavor than can finally bring attention to the issue of Urban Renewal by the city.

Why ruin the Urban Renewal concept that has it's rightful place? I'll contribute, are their others?

Smart will be park when Portland builds it's first bike only parking structure downtown. Most "LEED" buildings have underground parking lots get filled with up with care exhaust pollution. This pollution has to go somewhere. A smart bike structure would promotes zero pollution parking and human powered transport. The sooner we get cars and idling trucks off the downtown bikemall the sooner we'll clean up some of the worst air in Portland.

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