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Friday, December 26, 2008

Another great deal for Portland

A couple of alert readers, fearing that holiday merriment might not raise our blood pressure to its accustomed Christmas week levels, have sent along links to the latest "urban renewal" malarkey from the City of Portland. It seems the city's genius negotiators are getting ready to buy the Main Post Office at a price that includes a 50 percent premium above market value. This, of course, comes at a time of plummeting real estate values, which seems more than a little counterproductive.

But hey. Why get upset? This is standard procedure for Portland. And it's only half the story. The other half will be when they declare the site "blighted" and sell it to Homer Williams, Hank Ashforth, Joe Weston, or some such scoundrel for $1. Maybe throw in 10 or 15 years of tax abatements, too.

Then the Post Office will be promptly demolished, and a soulless, fake New York will be erected on the site. The good-paying, blue-collar postal jobs will be moved out of the city, to some place like Woodburn. Retirees from Orange County will move in and live their streetcar lives. And if you're downtown on a Saturday and want to mail a package, you won't be able to.

This is classic "urban renewal" progress in Portland. And with the brief moment of sanity known as the Potter administration ending in a few days, this sort of thing is going to be going hot and heavy from here on out -- all the way to the inevitable bankruptcy down the road.

Comments (24)

Well, at least we'll get an over-priced baseball stadium for the Paulson boys to make a few bucks and then leave.

All that stuff they said about Bush being stupid - I think we are about to hit a new low-water mark with this regime and Sammy/Randy.

Other issues aside, the right situs for the city's main post office is at or near the airport.

What I find especially distressing about the appraisals is that they arrive at current market value by considering future zone changes. There is no assurance the zone changes will happen, and from the Post Office's standpoint, they have no control over the zone change process.

The appraisal community should be ashamed of this kind of thing. But they sold their souls to devil a long time ago, unfortunately.

How out of touch are these guys? Man, that's almost a redundant question isn't it? I'm in Beaverton so this doesn't affect me directly but I don't understand how Portlanders let this happen. How come there aren't riots in the street? We're overdue for a revolution.

Oops, I'm wrong in the previous post. The zone changes tie in with the 50% premium the City will pay, not to the appraised value. So sorry. But appraisals often do assume future zone changes that may not happen, and that is very wrong.

PDC has explained the 50 percent bonus as a way of reflecting future property value, since it will be several years before the Postal Service vacates the site.

If property values grow at 6 percent a year (which is the typical long-run average), then, to justify the premium it would have to be 7 years before the USPS vacates the site.

And, if the appraisals already account for the delay, then PDC would be double counting.

It's funny that PDC will nickel and dime private property owners for property they take, but pay top dollar to the Feds.

Wow, this is astonishing in it's stupidity and blatant shafting of the taxpayer. It's amazing how the PDC and local officials can negotiate deals that they would never commit their personal money or their own private businesses to.

Again, this shows the absolute hypocrisy of the PDC, local elected officials, etc. They put on this song and dance about affordable housing, but they are going to push the biggest employer of middle class incomes in the PDC out to east Portland so they can build luxury condos.

I hope that "The good-paying, blue-collar postal jobs will be moved out of the city, to some place like Woodburn" is just a lame attempt at humor on your part.

Much more likely is that a new postal plant will be built near PDX which, of course, is in the city. Most intercity mail moves by air; plus, the Postal Service has been in negotiations with the Port of Portland for a site near the airport for several years.

I'm not as pessimistic as Jack, ultimately it depends what goes in its place. Most of the facility is warehouse and if an office complex or something similar emerges it could be like a new Montgomery Park. With that said, if past performance is any indication, I'm not overly optomistic.

the right situs for the city's main post office is at or near the airport.

And that is why, exactly?

Portland downtown is kind of like a long term momentum play, stretching several decades, where state and federal subsidies are essiential to propping up an economy that depends on steadily expanding public debt. Eventually, the place gets too dense and retiree-led immigration slows, and the momentum play ends in a longterm secular decline, relatively speaking. For taxpayers, it is a matter of getting out of real property positions before the momentum peaks.

It also depends on Metro continuing to stifle local community development in the suburbs outside of Portland. Indeed, Metro may begin to lose some grip soon as the state-wide Big Look task force lobbies for shifting some development decisions back to local government and away from the unique Metro government body.

Actually, all things considered, the best place for the main post office is near the main city rail yard. Moving heavy paper (mail) on airplanes is absurd and is just another reflection of policies made and distorted thanks to cheap energy.

We're in the recession-fueled dip in oil prices, but that will only last as long as demand destruction dominates and our economy is shrinking and taking the rest of the world with it. Eventually countries with productive capacity will emerge from this slump and be bidding up the price of oil again, which is probably entering its decline right about now -- a decline that even the IEA estimates might be as great as 10% a year. Oil prices will be volatile in the up direction just as they are currently in a deep dip.

Moreover, any serious response aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions starts by cutting flying first.

So, no, don't move the post office away from the rail yard.

Is there still a rail yard there?

George Anonymuncule Seldes: Eventually countries with productive capacity will emerge from this slump and be bidding up the price of oil again, which is probably entering its decline right about now -- a decline that even the IEA estimates might be as great as 10% a year. Oil prices will be volatile in the up direction just as they are currently in a deep dip.

Moreover, any serious response aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions starts by cutting flying first.
JK: Ahh, both popular delusions in one post.

The world is not running out of oil. The USA is NOT running out of oil, only out of oil that the greens and Ds will let us use..
Then there is the hundreds of years of supply of shale oil, tar sands and oil from coal (Hitlar ran a war on this one.)

Relax, the world is only ending in the scheme of the hucksters trying to get rich from fooling you and scaring children.


JK: A site that the post office could own would be Colwood gold course. Anyone want to bet on what is going on in the back rooms right now?


This is all about as depressing as the snow that still continues to fall from the sky at my house, right now!
And I can do about as much to change the weather as I can do about the on going scamming that goes on at city hall.
You may be right canucken...a good revolution may be in order.
Now where did I put my pitch fork?

Wait , I've got it , we turn the
post office into a convention center hotel and put a TRAM over the river , this involves all of mayor Adams favorite things in one ball of yarn. go kitty go !


Logistics: the bulk of what comes into and goes out of the city isn't carried by train any more, so it's inefficient to do the aggregating and distributing in the heart of town.

Rumor control at the Post Office is that they are eyeballing Colwood, and an area near Cascade Station.

We (the P.O.) need a huge facility to bring on line the next round of automation. There are three facilities near PDX, the PACC, AMF (Airport Post Office) and the Mount Hood facility there which handles alot of the mail that is automated. I work at another such plant. This only makes sense if the Post Office wants to put all its eggs in one basket.

The automation facility in question needs to be multi-floor, and at least 5 football fields in size. (Look up FSS on Youtube) Downtown can't do that. The thinking is a grand sized consolidation of operations and going to the new method of sortation.

I hope that helps a bit. I hope it goes through because I would be able to cut a huge commute in half.

After reading Roy's post, one can conclude that the Postal Service will have a surplus property downtown that it will need to unload when it builds a more efficient facility near the airport.

That would seem to put PDC in the driver's seat on this deal. Instead of offering 50% more than market value for the old post office, they should be offering 50% less.

Who else is gonna buy the place?

Hauling mail from the airport downtown, and then back to the airport is an expensive, tedious operation.

Stuck on the Banfield? How about the bridge lifts on I-5 and the Willamette?

Wait, the noise and congestion for the neighbors of downtown and Northeast Portland.

Moving large trucks downtown and around the region is expensive, consuming resources and time-commodities the Postal Serivce cannot afford to waste.

Do not forget security-it will be easier to address security challenges from a facility better fitted than the corner of the Broadway and Lovejoy ramps.

A 46+ year old building erected on a landfill.

Transportation by trucks and planes is cost effective and efficient from a location less subject to the challenges of rail-a generation past.

Every time a truck idles on the highway, waiting in traffic a flight is missed and processing increases. Is this the most cost-effective use of resources?

Just some thoughts.

Gil has it right. When the USPS is ready to give it up, some investor or developer will be willing to buy it at some price that will define is worth. The PDC initiative is a ridiculous waste.

Will PDC/USPC pay the real estate transfer tax that Sam wants to initiate? Probably not. Let free enterprise buy it and the real value will be established and not the political process. Then the transfer tax will be paid.

Then the Post Office will be promptly demolished, and a soulless, fake New York will be erected on the site...Retirees from Orange County will move in and live their streetcar lives. And if you're downtown on a Saturday and want to mail a package, you won't be able to.

Hm, sounds a whole lot like east Clark County, with its soulless subdivisions of cookie-cutter McMansions, where you can be sure of living on a cul-de-sac, but walking out to buy groceries, a cup of coffee, or to get a prescription filled? Bwahahahaha! You fool!

Oh sorry, these subdivisions obviously reflect the Will of the People, the Magic of Marketplace, the Genius of Free Enterprise.


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